Open skies for some international travel to South Africa


By Seth Meyer

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 11 of VARSITY News.


With the quickly approaching tourist season and ailing tourist sector in South Africa under the economic impact of Covid-19 and the national lockdown, the implementation of Level 1 restrictions (the most relaxed set of regulations in the government’s five stage mitigation plan for Covid-19) has seen international flight and travel into South Africa was officially opened from the 1st of October.


Global access to the rainbow nation is dependent on how the South African government determines the risk of any country, with three categories for external nations to fit into: high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk. Countries within the high-risk category include the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Brazil, amongst many others, as detailed in a press release from Home Affairs. The high-risk status is afforded to countries with a higher rate of Covid-19 infection and mortality in comparison to South Africa, meaning that leisure travel from these places into South Africa is not allowed. Exceptions include diplomatic missions. Entry for the express purposes of business travel may be applied for to the Department of Home Affairs.


The official government website has detailed the requirements that travellers must meet if they hope to enter the country under Level 1 restrictions. Travellers must present a Covid-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test no older than 72 hours, which “must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test.” Travellers will also be screened upon arrival for Covid-19 and for contact with persons infected with Covid-19.


The website has also detailed the protocol to be implemented in the event of a positive Covid-19 test:

“Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test.  This test will be at the traveller’s cost.  If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.”


South Africa’s active Covid-19 cases have shown a steady decline since the peak in July, with a recent, slight increase in October, according to data from Worldometer.

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