South Africa will open its international borders for the first time on 1 October as part of the country’s move to COVID-19 alert level 1.
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor said in a media briefing on Wednesday that international flights would resume to a number of countries around the world.
“We will be easing travel restrictions from the 1 October for international travellers, primarily in the first instance for business and some leisure travel,” Pandor said.
Pandor said the government looked at WHO criteria to assess the risk of other countries when determining the whitelist for international travel.
Countries are divided into three risk groups based on their relation to South Africa’s risk level based on the same criteria – high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk.
Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted. The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors, and people participating in professional sporting events.
If South Africans travel to a high-risk country, they will be regarded as being from a high-risk country upon their return to South Africa.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi announced the list of high-risk countries for which leisure travel is not allowed.
These are listed below:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- Puerto Rico
- United Emirates
- United Kingdom
Travellers will be screened at the port of entry for any COVID-19 symptoms and for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Travellers will also have to provide proof of accommodation addresses in case they need to self-isolate at the time of arrival in the country.
Only King Shaka International, OR Tambo International, and Cape Town International airports will be allowed to facilitate international travel.
Additionally, upon arrival in South Africa, travellers will need to present negative COVID-19 test results not older than 72 hours from the time of departure.
Where they do not present this, travellers will be required to stay in a 10-day mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
All international travellers will also be asked to install the COVID-19 Alert South African app.
Level 1 lockdown
The official lockdown level 1 rules were gazetted on 18 September, lifting a number of restrictions on movement and industry, and allowing many businesses to reopen.
Major changes include the reopening of South Africa’s borders and weaker regulations on public gatherings.
Social, religious, political, and other gatherings are now permitted, so long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of the venue. This must only be to a maximum of 250 people for indoor venues and 500 people for outdoor locations.
The curfew has also been changed, and now only applies between midnight and 04:00, and the restrictions on the sale of alcohol have been greatly eased.
Venues for exercise, recreational, and entertainment activities such as gyms and theatres are also now operational and able to accommodate up to 50% of their capacity.