BREAKING | Ramaphosa told to lift cigarette, alcohol ban and move to Level 2 lockdown – sources

  • Cabinet has been advised to lift the tobacco and alcohol sales ban and move the country to Alert level 2 of the lockdown. 
  • News24 understands that President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce his decision this week. 
  • A meeting of senior government officials on Sunday first touted the matter. 

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet have been advised to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol and move the country to Alert Level Two of the nationwide lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce his decision this week.

News24 has confirmed that Ramaphosa chaired meetings of the NCCC and Cabinet on Tuesday where the overwhelming argument was in favour of fully reopening the economy.

This is in light of the fact that fewer confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported daily.

Four sources who have knowledge of the discussions told News24 that the economic devastation of the cigarette sales ban could no longer be justified. The country has lost billions of rand in tax revenue as a result of the ban and the illegal selling of cigarettes has flourished.

The same argument was made for the reinstated alcohol ban that has been in place for the last month.

Officials said they were told that hospitals were not overwhelmed as expected, and that South Africa’s recovery rate showed a positive trajectory.

The discussion relating to the full reopening of the economy was first held on Sunday, at an extended meeting of the Forum of South African Directors-General (Fosad).

Natjoints, which is co-chaired by the police and the defence department, was also part of that meeting, where they processed the latest reports related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was argued that the economy is mostly open so we have to look at the other remaining sectors. When we are meeting with sectors we can’t justify the ruin to the economy,” a government insider said.

A second source said: “We said this ban is not working. Cigarettes are sold. Alcohol is sold openly now. Our ban is pointless.”

A cigarette industry insider told News24 they were expecting an announcement from Ramaphosa, unbanning the sale of tobacco.

“We are very optimistic about what we are hearing. There is acknowledgement that the restrictions didn’t work.”

The tobacco industry has been involved in high-stakes litigation against the government and the Western Cape High Court is expected to rule on an application by British American Tobacco to have the sale of cigarettes unbanned this week.

A second cigarette industry insider said they were also anticipating an end to the cigarette sales ban, four and a half months after it was first imposed.

The government’s reassessment of the booze ban was in line with claims they made in court that the government would balance the health measures with the impact of the economy.

Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the court in two different matters that the government would re-evaluate the alcohol ban regularly.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who is in charge of commenting on matters related to the NCCC and Cabinet, could not be reached for comment.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams could also not be reached for comment.

The Presidency would not confirm whether Ramaphosa would address the nation on the matter this week.

UK visa offices open for South Africans moving to UK

For South Africans contemplating a move to the UK, the visa centres in South Africa are open for new applications.
With restrictions easing in Europe, visa offices are starting to reopen globally following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has implemented a controlled, phased, reopening of Service Points.
A reduced number of locations are operating at a lower capacity than usual in the interests of the safety of customers and staff, and to ensure that the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) delivers an effective service that still meets public health guidelines. Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed.
John Dunn, the director of citizenship and immigration at Sable International, said that South Africans could now rebook existing UK visa or British appointment that they were not able to attend due to the pandemic. He said UKVCAS will honour existing payments, and applicants will not be charged again and no appointment prices will be displayed for rebooking.
However, certain short stay categories like the visit visa and EEA family permit that are issued for 6 months but have expired will not be renewed or extended. They will have to be resubmitted in full, and government fees must be paid again.
“We are able to book appointments for new applications, but there is a lower number of appointments available, due to the restriction on the number of people they are safely allowed to see each day.
“The South African government has opened the borders to people who have work commitments and study commitments abroad. This includes those on the student visas and who have work permits that have been approved before or during this time. However, the borders are unlikely to open in full for other travel before October,” said Dunn.
While the UK borders were not officially closed, people arriving in the UK will need to spend 14 days in self-isolation and will need to fill in a locator form upon arrival, detailing where they plan to spend those 14 days.
The process when you get to the UK:
Dunn detailed the process for South Africans arriving in the UK.
“When you arrive in the UK, you will not be allowed to leave the place where you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK (known as ‘self-isolating’) unless you’re arriving from an exempt country.
“All South African visitors to the UK will need to complete the public health passenger locator form 48 hours before arrival. You must present these details on your arrival in England. You may be refused permission to enter the UK (if you are not a British citizen), or fined if you do not provide your contact details or do not self-isolate unless you arrive in the UK from an exempt country.
“You should self-isolate in one place for the full 14 days, where you can have food and other necessities delivered, and stay away from others. You must self-isolate at the address you provided on the public health passenger locator form.
“You cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas, go shopping or go out to exercise. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should order a delivery.
“If you cannot safely self-isolate for 14 days, you should tell Border Force Officers when you pass through UK border controls. They will provide you with details of a booking service which you can use to obtain accommodation and self-isolate in at your own expense,” he said.

Travel Journal: What it’s like flying from Australia to Greece during the Covid-19 pandemic

Greek City Times – 13 August 2020

Life has certainly been far from normal since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11.

How this has affected life very obviously differs throughout the world, with each country and state adopting different methods to deal with it.

Perhaps one of the most authoritarian has been Australia, where its citizens cannot leave the country unless they make an application to the Home Affairs Department. This is supposedly to stop Australians from traveling and returning with the virus.

However, this is completely devoid of finding practical solutions to those who need to travel, or allowing thousands of jobs to return in the industry. One such example of allowing Australians to travel could be to force returnees into a 2-week quarantine in a designated hotel at their own expense. This is just one of many different solutions.

Naturally when it was time for me to lodge my application to leave Australia with Home Affairs there was a sense of doubt I would be approved.

Reason for leaving? Being a correspondent for Greek City Times in Greece and to do my PhD.

In my application I included a letter from Greek City Times, a letter from the university where I am doing my PhD and a copy of a 12-month rental contract. To my surprise it was accepted within a week.

The key is to provide as much information and documented evidence as possible to justify why you must leave Australia.

Currently, only Qatar Airways via Doha and Etihad via Abu Dhabi are doing the Sydney to Athens route. With Qatar Airways being several hundred dollars cheaper at the time, I booked my flights with them.

On the day of my flight, I arrived at the airport 3 hours before take off. What would ensue at the airport was over two hours waiting to check-in my luggage.

Although I had checked-in online and just had to drop off my luggage, several passengers were over the luggage weight limit and Qatar Airways staff did not move them aside so that the next passenger could be served.

After waiting for over two hours to check-in my luggage, myself and other Australian flyers were set aside so that Qatar Airways could contact Canberra and confirm that we indeed had permission to leave Australia. After that was done and I passed through security and passport control, I boarded the flight immediately with only 15 minutes before take-off.

Before boarding the flight though, we had to wear a compulsory mask and faceshield, that would have to be worn for the entire duration of the flight…


This humiliating and uncomfortable ordeal was only for those in Economy Class, with Business Class exempted from this.

In Economy Class there was an empty seat between every passenger.

Business Class were exempt from having to wear the the face mask and faceshield because there was more distance between each passenger, according to Qatar Airways, and cabin crew only wore the mask and not the shield.

Within 2 hours of the flight, the majority of passengers abandoned wearing the mask and faceshield combination, and only wore one or the other. Thankfully, cabin crew had no interest in enforcing passengers to wear the extremely excessive and uncomfortable combination.

After 22 hours and enduring mediocre flight food, I finally landed in Athens, where all passengers were immediately put in a line to show the QR code they received when they filled out the Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours before arriving in Greece.

While lining up to be tested, and throughout Athens Airport, there are very clear instructions on how to conduct oneself during this pandemic.

After finally reaching the front of the line, I was quickly tested for coronavirus with a throat swab and was free to go through passport control and collect my luggage. My swab was then put in a test tube by the extremely friendly and efficient workers.

After collecting my luggage, I was then free to leave and take public transportation to my accommodation. But remember, in Greece you can receive a fine for not wearing a mask on public transportation.

On the train and metro, every second seat is cordoned off to try and practice social distancing, but this of course is rendered useless during peak travel times.

And there is always a constant reminder that masks must be worn on public transportation.

If you are lucky enough to leave Australia for Greece, remember 24 hours before arriving in Greece to complete the Passenger Locator Form, even if you are a Greek passport holder.

Also, do not forget to wear a mask when on public transport or in a shop in Greece.

Mango to restart flights

Mango to restart flights

Source: News24, 04/06/2020

Due to extra regulatory and safety protocols, passengers are asked to
arrive at least two-and-half hours prior to their flight. If guests
are feeling unwell, or suspect they are ill, Mango will allow one
free date change to re-accommodate the passenger. more at