FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Recently imposed travel bans to southern African countries may cause Razorback athletes to not be able to see their families for the holidays. 

Carina Viljoen is a professional distance runner from Johannesburg, South Africa, who graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2019. 

She is currently here in Northwest Arkansas training. This holiday season would have been the first time she saw her family since the international travel ban was lifted on November 8th. 

“I think they’ve overreacted in the first two days,” says Carina Viljoen. “They just heard that South African scientists found this thing, and it must be coming from South Africa, so let’s ban South Africa altogether.”

President Joe Biden says the travel ban to eight different southern African countries is a necessary precaution to give us time. 

“But here’s what it does, it gives us time. It gives us time to take more action. To move quicker, to make sure people understand they need to get their vaccine,” says President Biden. 

Dr. Robert Hopkins with UAMS says he understands the president’s thinking but worries about the repercussions it could have. 

“In a lot of ways, this penalizes people in the southern part of Africa where they don’t have enough vaccine, and that may limit the amount of help that we’re able to get them,” says Dr. Hopkins. 

While Viljoen agrees, this will cause many more implications than what we might think about on a surface level. 

“South Africa heavily relies on tourism in December. It’s hurting them a lot. I have friends that own game parks, and they said that they had been fully booked for the first time since the pandemic, and now that is probably all gone,” says Viljoen. 

Viljoen says she is holding on to that hope something will change between now and Christmas, but as of right now, she’s going to have to choose her career overseeing her loved ones.