A UK tour operator who has lost half of its staff due to crippling government travel restrictions is hoping South Africa will finally be taken off the red list in today’s traffic light update.
Ginny Russell, owner of Cedarberg Africa, in Lewes, East Sussex, checks the GISAID website, which tracks Covid variants around the world, every day for signs that South Africa’s data will improve enough to be removed from the redlist.
The government banned South Africa’s entry into the UK on December 24 last year and since February anyone arriving from the country has to pay for the hotel’s quarantine. He has been on the red list since traffic light system was introduced in May.
Describing how the restrictions hit her business, Ms Russell said I: “Unfortunately, we had to make some tough decisions and our team is half as large as before.
“It was very painful, these are people who have worked with us for many, many years and it is a great loss of knowledge and expertise.
“It is so important that we start to try to balance the risks, trying to prevent the death of the travel industry and individual tragedies.
“It’s not just about people who can’t see their loved ones or go on vacation, it’s also about people losing their livelihood.”
Ms Russell’s sister Kate Bergh lives and runs her own travel business in Cape Town, which has also been hit hard by the restrictions. The family is desperate to be reunited when the restrictions are lifted.
She said: “I haven’t seen my sister, a niece and two nephews since 2019. Normally I would go see them at least once a year.
” It’s long. I can’t wait to see them. I am ready to go as soon as that changes and I know other people who have booked flights and they will leave as soon as they can.
“If we have chosen the path we have chosen, which is to recognize that we have to go back to some kind of normal life, this should include the possibility for people to reconnect with the people and places that are theirs. Dear. “
However, the family’s hopes have already been dashed and Ms Russell is trying not to get excited by rumors the country is set to come out of the red.
She said: “I think people got it to begin with, and I certainly got it. But once we in the UK started celebrating all the freedoms that have been given to us, that didn’t include the travel industry. We still cannot travel freely. It really seemed incredibly upsetting and unfair, but there is a lot about this pandemic that is unfair.
“We are abnormal here in the UK, so much freedom at home and so little freedom to travel. So I really hope that will change. The fact that it is anticipated is good and while our hopes are dashed, there is another chance on October 1st.
When asked if a change tomorrow would save her business, she added: “Oh my god it will make a difference. We haven’t been able to trade here in the UK since last March. And obviously we’re on. to the point of losing any financial support we received and were truly grateful for.
“I can see a way, if we get the changes we’re looking for soon, we’ll be fine.”