The two flights touched down in Schiphol Airport on Friday morning, but passengers face a long wait to disembark, NOS reported. All 600 passengers will be given PCR tests and will have to remain on the plane or elsewhere in the airport until their results come back, with the final result expected around 8.30 on Friday evening.
The order was apparently given shortly before the flights touched down, taking both crew and passengers by surprise.
“The Johannesburg flight and also our Cape Town flight cannot enter the Netherlands without any restrictions,” one of the pilots can be heard telling passengers on a video that appeared on social media. “What that means…that is what they are finding out right now.”
In another video, the pilot tells passengers they will need to wait for their test results at the airport terminal.
Southern Africa is the epicenter of the ‘Nu’ variant of Covid-19, a strain of the virus that’s rapidly eclipsed the ‘Delta’ variant as the most commonly transmitted in parts of South Africa. Scientists are racing to learn more about the variant, but some have suggested ‘Nu’ may be more transmissible than other variants, and could be resistant to the current array of Covid-19 vaccines.
Passengers on board both flights would all have been fully vaccinated or shown a negative Covid-19 test result, in accordance with Dutch government policy.
The ‘Nu’ variant has been discovered in several countries worldwide, including Botswana, Israel, and Hong Kong. The first European case was reported in Belgium on Friday.
In the time before both flights touched down in Amsterdam, Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge banned all travel to the Netherlands from South Africa.