Excitement, confusion and frustration as South Africa opens its borders to international visitors
The Corona Virus pandemic has hit South Africa hard with total deaths topping 18,000 as of October 2020 out of 700,000 reported cases accompanied with an almost equal number of recoveries according to official government statistics. While these stats may seem bad to locals, they don’t compare at all with the scary numbers from Europe and the Americas. South Africa has indeed fared fairly well with regards to COVID-19 with a plethora of unverifiable theories of why and how.
It is with this background that the President, Cyril Ramaphosa, declared that from 1st October 2020 South Africa will start welcoming international visitors albeit with some restrictions to manage the risk of imported COVID-19. It is these restrictions that have brought unhappiness to many including travel agents, tour operators, leisure and business tourists, returning citizens and airline crews some of whom have decided to suspend their services altogether in protest.
Overview of South Africa’s COVID-19 International Travel Restrictions
- Only 3 international airports are operational, namely: OR Tambo Airport (JNB), Cape Town Airport (CPT) and King Shaka Airport (DUR). Lanseria Airport (HLA) will continue handling domestic flights.
- All passengers and crew should carry a negative PCR Test (not older than 3 days) to confirm they are COVID-free. NB: Results from self-administered rapid test kits are not acceptable- only results issued by a registered medical practitioner/institution will be accepted.
- Leisure travellers from high risk countries are not welcome at this stage. Its unfortunate that the list features most of South Africa’s top tourist markets including USA, UK, Brazil, India, Netherlands & France!
- However, business travellers, investors, diplomats, professional sportspersons and expatriates with critical skills from high risk countries will be allowed into South Africa provided they email the Department of Home Affairs prior to departure of their intention to visit the country attaching the necessary proof.
- Visitors from low and medium risk countries will be welcomed. Visitors from high risk countries who have spent at least 10 days in a low risk country will also be admitted.
- Travellers should carry proof of address of where they’ll be staying in South Africa (eg hotel booking confirmation or letter from host).
- Travel insurance is a must for all visitors to South Africa and it should cover all costs and expenses such as any COVID tests and quarantine expenses.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 you’ll be required to quarantine at a government-approved facility/hotel at your own cost for at least 10 days. Same applies if you arrive without a negative PCR Test Result.
- Visitors from all African countries will be welcomed provided they produce a negative PCR Test Certificate.
- South Africans can visit any country that is welcoming them provided they can provide proof of this- typically via a letter/email from that country’s SA High Commission/Embassy confirming that the South African citizen will be allowed to enter into that country. This letter together with a copy of the passport and visa (if applicable) should be emailed to the Department of Home Affairs for approval.
This summary is not exhaustive, for additional info/queries, please email Sandton Taxi Cabs on firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Corporate Office on +27 11 039 4402 or just WhatsApp +27 78 396 4115.