COVID DELAY: Stephanie George is stuck in Cape Town due to the latest Covid variant
COVID DELAY: Stephanie George is stuck in Cape Town due to the latest Covid variant

A DALE resident has been left stranded in South Africa after travel restrictions were imposed following the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
However, Stephanie George says she is not too downhearted at being stuck in Cape Town as it means she is able to spend more time with her new-born granddaughter Haley. Ms George was due to fly home on Saturday, November 27 – the day after the UK Government imposed restrictions on those travelling from South Africa and a number of countries neighbouring the republic due to the Omicron alert.
“I was booked on a BA flight and received an email in the early hours to say it was cancelled, then I got a second email explaining why,” she said. A third email arrived informing Ms George that a BA helpline had been set up by airline staff based in South Africa.
“I am not sure when I can get back – it is not known when flights will start up. I know that even though I have had two vaccine jabs I will have to quarantine for ten days on landing at Heathrow and not at Newcastle.
“All this came as a bolt from the blue.”
Ms George, a former travel industry executive, works as an assistant in the Teesdale Mercury shop, Barnard Castle, having relocated to the UK three years ago.
When her daughter Natalie became pregnant, Ms George saved up her annual leave so she could spend time with little Haley, her first grandchild, who is now four-and-a-half months old.
Staying with proud parents Natalie and her partner Darren, the trip has allowed Ms George to catch up with son Haydn, who also lives in Cape Town.
“I left for South Africa on October 18. It has been a tremendous trip,” added Ms George.
“I had all the PCR tests done and everything was fine coming in. I am not sure what the protocols are for leaving.
“But I am a lot better off than other people. I realise and appreciate that – and I get to spend extra time with the little one.”
Ms George said she was keeping her fingers crossed to be back in the dale by Christmas.