Raleigh family that traveled to South Africa now headed home as new variant causes restrictions


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh family is on their way home after being in danger of getting stuck in South Africa due to travel restrictions amid growing concerns over the omicron COVID-19 variant.

Lauren Kennedy Brady, owner of the Theatre Raleigh, traveled to South Africa with her mother, daughter, and niece. They attempted to leave on Friday, but cancellations kept them grounded in Johannesburg.

“We went from having two flights to zero flights and then after that we booked, I don’t know, we probably booked 10 flights in total,” Brady said. “It hit us like a ton of bricks and of course every other traveler is going through this right now. Those borders just slammed shut and it has wreaked a lot of havoc clearly and a lot of confusion.”

The omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa, leading many world leaders to restrict travel to and from the area.

The four managed to get booked on two separate flights, thanks to their travel agent monitoring vacancies, said K.D. Kennedy the father of Lauren Kennedy Brady. One flight is due to touch down at Raleigh-Durham International Airport just before noon Tuesday with the other expected about 40 minutes later.

Kennedy said the flights were filled with American citizens making the trek home. Everyone on board needed proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within the past 24 hours.

“I’m pretty relieved,” Kennedy said, adding that he hasn’t slept much.

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