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Airport Chaos: American Travelers Detained In South African Airport & Unable To Fly Home Due To Travel Ban

By Kelsey Marie

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On Thursday, the U.S. State Department released a Level 4 travel advisory warning all Americans to not travel abroad.

These were extreme measures taken by the U.S. to stop the spread of COVID-19, but other countries are taking it a step further.

For example, South Africa has locked down travel in and out of the country. U.S. citizens and other citizens from high-risk countries will be refused entry.

O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg announced Friday that foreigners would not be allowed to leave because of the spread of COVID-19, and South African Airways would be suspending all international flights until June. 

The airport says, “The aircraft will be contained at an isolated bay with all officials ensuring the utmost care is taken. We are working with the airline to ensure that foreign nationals return to the country of origin.”

O.R. Tambo International Airport is the busiest airport on the continent. 

Over the weekend, American travelers were flying to Johannesburg from countries that were not high-risk. However, because they have American passports, they were detained and are in a detention center at the airport.

The travelers explained that they hadn’t been in the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak and were traveling from low-risk countries but were ignored and still sent to the detainment center. 

There are currently travelers from different countries stuck in detention centers with little food and in an environment that violates the World Health Organization’s standards of social distancing. 

Most of the people in the detention center have had their phones taken and are not able to contact anyone.

There is now a strict ban on travel and travelers will be denied entry upon arrival. 

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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