On the 15th March the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) started advising against all but essential travel to Malawi. This is due to quarantine measures Malawi is, understandably, establishing for those visiting from 17 countries affected by COVID-19.
Read the latest FCO advice and sign-up to free email alerts HERE
We encourage all Members to follow this FCO advice and recommend members sign-up to the free FCO email alerts to be the first to know when this advice changes. This service works very well.
The SMP is in contact with the Scottish Government, the British High Commissioner, the Malawi High Commissioner and key travel companies. We recognise this news will have a major impact on many of our Members.
We know that a number of groups have already decided to cancel trips and we recommend they speak again to their insurers in case the change in FCO advice affects their ability to have costs refunded.
For members currently in Malawi and seeking to return to the UK, we note that travel restrictions are in place in many transit countries such as Kenya and South Africa. Those in this situation should liaise with their travel company/airline and ensure they check FCO guidance for any transit countries.
While this development will be a challenge for a number of Scotland-Malawi links with planned activities, it is good that we are doing all we can to try and avoid spreading COVID-19 to Malawi, where there are more limited healthcare facilities to respond to the virus.
We encourage members to think about alternative ways of continuing partnership activities without international travel in the short to medium term, including use of WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom and social media. We are happy to recommend the services of the Responsible Safari Company who have already developed a package of support services within Malawi specifically to support Scotland-Malawi links not able to meet in person this year. They are ready to offer bespoke in-country assistance however required. CLICK HERE for more details.
We recognise that this situation could have a devastating impact on the travel and tourism sector in Malawi, with a serious knock-on impact on the wider economy. We therefore strongly encourage all members not able to travel now to see this as a postponement rather than cancellation, and to continue with plans when the situation changes and prudent to do so. Malawi, the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, very much looks forward to returning to business as usual.
We are sure that Scotland’s friendship with Malawi will endure for another 160 years but it is important, at this difficult and dynamic time, that we prioritise the containment of the virus and do all we can to avoid spreading it to Malawi.
“The Malawi authorities have introduced a number of precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
All travellers arriving from the UK and other countries with significant number of infections will be asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Travellers who are unable to self-quarantine at home may be transferred to a local treatment facility for the self-quarantine period. Travellers are not permitted to self-isolate in a hotel or lodge.
Countries to which this applies to are: China, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Iran, US, South Korea, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Austria and Japan. This list is subject to change without notice.
Travellers in groups of 10 or more will also be asked to self-quarantine at home. Current information is available from the Malawi Ministry of Health Facebook page.
You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities. Keep up to date with information from your tour operator, transport or accommodation provider on the impact on any existing travel plans.
Further information on coronavirus, including advice on preparing for foreign travel and helping reduce the spread of the virus, is available from Public Health England and on the TravelHealthPro website.