Welcome back, Eurowings!
After five months, the first Eurowings plane landed in Windhoek on Sunday morning.
21 September 2020 | Transport
There is a glimmer of hope for the Namibian tourism industry after the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings became the first airline to fly here directly from Europe since the reopening of Namibia’s borders.
Early on Sunday morning, the Eurowings Airbus A330-300 was welcomed with a ceremonial water shower at Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Eurowings will now be flying to Namibia three times a week.
“Namibia is an important market for the Lufthansa Group and we are delighted to demonstrate our commitment to this market and our support in restarting the tourism sector,” Dr André Schulz, managing director of the group in southern Africa, is quoted as saying.
“We hope that the connection between our two countries will restore some normality for travellers,” Ellen Götz, Chargée d’Affaires of the German Embassy in Windhoek said.
Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, agreed: “After many months in the fight against the global pandemic, we are pleased to welcome international guests back to Namibia,” he is quoted as saying.
The restart of direct flights from Europe is important for Namibia, and thus Shifeta promised that the Namibian tourism industry has rolled out several health and safety protocols and guidelines.
“Namibia is ready,” Shifeta said.
Less smooth return
However, the return flight did not go completely as smoothly for five Namibians wishing to return to Germany since they were not allowed to board because they allegedly did not have a negative Covid-19 test, a reliable source told this newspaper.
“There are still a few little things that we need to iron out, but at least things have started,” Gitta Paetzold of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) said yesterday, adding that “it would be great if we could define uniform rules for the entire SADC region.”
She cited South Africa as an example, saying that in the neighbouring country, tourists with a negative test may enter. An additional test is only necessary if an arriving tourist at the airport shows Covid-19 symptoms.
In Namibia, on the other hand, tourists can travel to the country and on the fifth day after arrival they have to be tested for the virus, no matter where they are. “This is a logistical challenge, which is why the South African model makes more sense,” Paetzold said.
For this reason, they are busy working on a local solution.
Meanwhile, health minister Kalumbi Shangula activated two health laws following the end of the State of Emergency based on Covid-19 being declared a “huge epidemic disease”. Accordingly, he announced several measures in the fight against the disease.
A Government Gazette regarding the new regulations was not available by Sunday’s editorial deadline, but still there are three important regulations in the fight against the pandemic, namely wearing a mask in public; that gatherings do not exceed a maximum of 50 people; and that bars, discos and shebeens close at 22:00.
Meanwhile, the number of new infections in Namibia continues to decline.
Deputy health minister Esther Muinjangue yesterday announced 85 new infections, of which only 37 are form Windhoek. There were also 12 cases from the Oshikoto region, 11 of which are learners. “It is no surprise to record many cases in the same school. We must be vigilant, as more students are going to school now. They need to be monitored and if they are not feeling well, they should stay at home,” she said.
The number of active Covid-19 cases in Namibia stood at 2 232 yesterday, the number of deaths at 112. To date, a total of 10 377 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed, of which 8 033 are considered recovered.