International travel to be opened “very soon” – Minister

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said opening international travel is top of their agenda, but it will be done following global benchmarks.

Mbalula made these comments during an inspection of the O.R Tambo International Airport to assess adherence to COVID-19 regulations and directions.

This inspection follows complaints received by the Minister on lack of compliance to aviation regulations related to airlines.

At a press briefing following the inspection, Mbalula said they will consider the risk which different countries pose when opening international travel.

They are also considering the measures which must be taken when international travellers start to visit South Africa.

While international travel poses risks for South Africa, the transport minister said we should not fall behind global standards.

He said many other countries are starting to open international travel, which is guiding the government’s decision making on the matter.

“In terms of time frames, this will happen very soon in terms of the movement to other levels,” he said.

“Very soon international travel will be opened, and we will announce measures when it happens.”

Move to Level 1 lockdown expected

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently said that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is evaluating a number of proposals around the further easing of lockdown restrictions.

One of the requests he received was from religious leaders, specifically around extending the number of people which may attend gatherings.

The president said that the NCCC is also considering requests from the sporting fraternity, the entertainment sector, hotels and tourism.

“We are considering all of that as we do an evaluation of where the infection rate is. We will be able to give consideration to all of these proposals and get advice.

Ramaphosa indicated that he will address the nation next week on a range of issues. “Watch this space next week (as to) where we end up as a nation in as far as this is concerned,” he said.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said South Africa will need to move to a level 1 lockdown and a return to ‘normal activities’ as part of its economic recovery.

The minister said that it was too early to provide a date as to when the country could move to a level 1 lockdown, but he confirmed that the government was currently discussing the issue.

“The president will come out in the next few days and give us a sense of direction, but we will be preparing for people to start easing to the next level. When that has been announced we will, of course, move onto that level, but it has not been decided yet.”

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula interview

Now read: New lockdown rules extend curfew and allow leisure travel in South Africa

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International travel to be opened “very soon” – Minister