The United National Transport Union (UNTU) has called on the government to take decisive action against MSC Cruises, as it disregarded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ban on international travel.
On Sunday, 15 March 2020, President Ramaphosa addressed the country on the coronavirus pandemic and its rapid spread. During his address, Ramaphosa announced guidelines which were put in place to contain the spread of the virus. Amongst these guidelines was the ban of citizens leaving for international trips, which was effective immediately. The government, however, restricted foreign tourists from entering the country as from Wednesday, 18 March 2020. The MSC Cruises contravened both bans by leaving on Monday, 16 March 2020, and are due to return today, 20 March 2020.
UNTU noted that although Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, had notified the cruise ship that the ban would be in full force upon its return, MSC informed clients that the cruise would commence as planned, because “the ports of Durban and Cape Town are open to cruise passengers and crew.” UNTU highlighted that MSC Cruises not only contravened the travelling ban, but overlooked the rule that prohibited more than 100 people congregating in one place.
The union noted that the ship would have to be isolated as a quarantined vessel, in accordance to new regulations. It also called on the government to make an example of MSC Cruises, to deter any other companies from ignoring safety regulations.