The idiot’s guide to easing travel restrictions: what you should know

Noble Horvath

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that international travel would be allowed from 1 October 2020, he made it clear that there would be certain travel restrictions. Tourists from countries that were deemed ‘high risk’ would not be allowed to enter South Africa in an effort to control the spread of […]

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that international travel would be allowed from 1 October 2020, he made it clear that there would be certain travel restrictions. Tourists from countries that were deemed ‘high risk’ would not be allowed to enter South Africa in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

What makes a country ‘high risk’, you ask?

Risk levels for other countries will be determined according to South Africa’s own rate of infection spread and the current number of deaths. In other words, red-listed countries are those with higher levels than us.

Medium risk countries are those with a relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa, while low risk countries have fewer infections and a lower death toll than South Africa.

On Wednesday, government announced a fairly comprehensive list of countries from which ordinary tourists would be banned for the time being. A few spots were left off accidently, including Brazil, but Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor said that the list will be reviewed every two weeks based on seven days worth of data.

The only exceptions will be travellers with high-skills visas, diplomats, sports people, repatriated persons, and investors.

Read also: Over 50 countries banned from SA; PPC delays results again; Capitec’s 78% profit slump

Travel restrictions for entering SA: 

  • All travellers visiting SA are expected to wear face masks at all times, practise social distancing in public spaces, and wash or sanitise hands regularly
  • You will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure.
  • A business traveller from a country listed as having a high Covid-19 infection and transmission rate may apply in writing to the Minister of Home Affairs. You must also supply reasons for wishing to enter the Republic and certain supporting documentation.
  • If you come from a high risk country but your passport shows that you have spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, you will be seen as arriving from a low risk country.
  • Travellers will need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
  • Should the individual display any Covid-19–related symptoms or if he/she was in contact with an infected person, they will be expected to take a mandatory Covid-19 test at their own cost. If the test is positive, the traveller will have to quarantine for 10 days at a designated site and at their own cost.

According to ministers, all countries on the African continent automatically fall outside the high-risk category, so tourists will be allowed to travel to and from those countries regardless of their Covid statistics. Borders and ports will gradually open for international tourists but government stresses that it will be a controlled and highly monitored process.

Read also: Travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted to SA – Pandor

Countries currently considered high risk: 

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Luxemburg
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Suriname
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • Venezuela

To keep your eye on the ever-changing list, click here.

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