Canadian field hockey team in South Africa to return home


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A Canadian field hockey team will begin its return trip from South Africa on Wednesday, after being stranded in the country due to recent travel restrictions linked to COVID-19.

“As a parent myself, thinking of my own daughter, if she was in this situation, yes I would say a huge relief,” said Nancy Mollenhauer, two-time Olympian and Canadian Junior Team Tour Director. feminine, to Your. Tuesday morning.

“But also with some trepidation, because we all know things can change quickly.”

The team was scheduled to play at the Junior World Cup in South Africa this month before being canceled due to the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 named Omicron by the World Health Organization.

On November 26 and 30, the Canadian government banned foreign nationals from entering Canada if, in the previous 14 days, they had visited countries in Africa, including Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa. and Zimbabwean.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and people with Indian Act status who had visited one of these countries in the previous two weeks were also subjected to more stringent tests before the departure and arrival, screening and quarantine measures. Direct flights from these countries have also ceased, and along with the Canadian government’s requirement to perform a PCR test in transit, some have reported that some airlines do not accept Canadian travelers.

The Canadian team has since been located in Potchefstroom, approximately 120 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg.

Although the team has been banned from boarding in South Africa, due to the Canadian government requirement that it receive a negative PCR test in a third country, Field Hockey Canada recently announced that it has received an exemption from the federal government, The Canadian Press reported. .

The team is now scheduled to take off from Johannesburg on Wednesday and transit through Germany.

If she hadn’t been able to get a flight sooner, player Nora Struchtrup said she should have quarantined herself over Christmas, under federal government rules.

“It’s basically a huge relief,” she said. “My mom can’t wait to have me home, neither does my dad.”

Struchtrup said the team trained that morning and took the afternoon. “So we had to spend some time in the South African sun, do some homework before two very busy days of travel, and yes, enjoy South Africa.”

Canada’s temporary exemption allows eligible passengers departing or transiting through South Africa to obtain a negative PCR test from an accredited laboratory in the country within 48 hours of a departing flight.

The exemption allows eligible travelers to travel from Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa, to Frankfurt, Germany on a Lufthansa flight departing no later than December 13.

Although a bit nerve-racking, Mollenhauer said “luckily everything seems to be working out”.

Philip Hattingh, who was stranded in South Africa after traveling the country to see his ailing mother, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday that he booked a flight through Frankfurt on December 13, a process he called disturbing and also expensive.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen at the moment, I guess we’ll see in the next few days, but yes, I must have booked my flight about four times now, so I hope I don’t have to do it all over again, ”he said.

Hattingh said he and his family were all fully vaccinated, which he adds is the only reason he traveled.

Travel restrictions have not only affected Canadian citizens or permanent residents like him, he said, but also those with work permits who have sold their homes and quit their jobs to start a new life. in Canada.

“A lot of people are going through a very difficult time right now,” he said.

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