From October 1 – when South Africa’s borders officially open – all travellers from the African continent will be permitted entry into the country.
This was announced on Friday (September 18) by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, before promulgating new Lockdown Level 1 regulations.
She reiterated that travel might be restricted to and from certain international countries that had high infection and transmission rates, noting that the relevant ministers making that decision were currently in consultations regarding this list and aimed to publish it before October 1.
International business travel from countries deemed 'high-risk' may be allowed with approval from Home Affairs.
“The list of permitted and prohibited countries will be based on the latest scientific data and updated accordingly,” said the Minister.
Dlamini-Zuma said South African missions abroad would open for visa applications and all long-term visas would be reinstated.
Bench-marked health and safety protocols
Meanwhile, South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, has expressed his delight at the pending reopening of borders. “As we prepare to open our regional and international borders, we know many travellers have been eager to travel to South Africa to enjoy the wide variety of our leisure activities and to host their business events. We are thrilled that we can finally welcome them back again.
“Our numbers are on a gradual decline, which makes this the perfect time to start reopening our borders. I would like to thank all partners from here in South Africa and across the world for their unyielding support and continued patience. We look forward to engaging them once again as we work together to package South Africa for various tourists’ needs,” added Ntshona.
Whilst “elated” about the further easing of restrictions, Ntshona emphasised the importance of safety measures that South Africa had put in place, including wearing of masks, washing hands and still maintaining social distancing.
“It is important to highlight that whilst we are happy with the further opening of our tourism sector, we recognise and acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us. Our industry has put in place globally benchmarked health and safety protocols to ensure that all travellers and tourism sector employees are safe. We take everyone’s safety very seriously. Therefore, we plead with all travellers, both domestic and international, to get used to travelling within the COVID-19 environment, exercising patience as we have new protocols that we must observe and practise,” he said.
These are some of the key regulations pertaining to travel:
- From October 1, 2020, all travellers are required to present a valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 test obtained not more than 72 hours (3 days) before the date of travel. Failure to present proof of a negative test will require the traveller to quarantine at their own cost. All travellers will be screened on arrival and anyone presenting symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted. All travellers will be asked to download the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app.
- Johannesburg's OR Tambo, Durban's King Shaka and Cape Town International Airports are the only airports that will allow international air travel to arrive or depart.
- The 18 land borders that were partially operational during the previous lockdown levels will be fully operational (i.e. allow passage of South Africans and permitted foreign nationals). The 35 land borders that were closed during the previous lockdown levels will remain closed.
- All commercial seaports will be opened for the transport of goods and crew, but will remain closed to passengers.