For people nearly everywhere in the world, the coronavirus pandemic has majorly altered their day to day activities. That fact is particularly true for those individuals and families who rely on the tourist industry in their respective countries to provide a way to make a living.
In South Africa where tourism accounts for an estimated 3% of the total gross domestic product, the coronavirus has been difficult. Safari tours and the closure of national parks have been impacted by the virus and the South Africa travel restrictions had a wide-reaching impact.
The shut down of those industries has had rippling effects on a vast array of businesses and their workers. Everything from the hospitality industry, particularly people who work in hotels and restaurants, to the people who make their living by working at the markets where tourists shop for souvenirs, COVID-19 has greatly impacted this crucial economic sector. Luckily, it appears things may be turning around for the best.
As the world balances the need to inject local economies with tourism money with the reality that the virus is still raging, it will be important to understand the local situation and be up to date on the travel warnings for anyone looking to go to South Africa.
What was the South African government’s response to the coronavirus?
A world-wide reckoning occurred back in March when governments on every continent began to understand the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. The inevitability of a lockdown came to fruition in South Africa towards the end of March when on the 26th the official word was passed down from the government.
At the time, the government stated that the restrictions would be in place for three weeks, though nobody knew how long the lockdown would last. The important part for tourists, business travelers, and the people who rely on the foreigners to earn a living was that all international borders were shut down and non-essential business activities (food shops, healthcare) were indefinitely halted.
Although these measures were put into place at the advice of health officials so that the maximum amount of human life could be saved, they still had an outsized impact on the tourism industry.
Over the course of the ensuing months, various restrictions were slowly removed, allowing for certain businesses to re-open and for the freedom of movement of the people of South Africa to begin to normalize.
The culmination of the easing of these rules happened on October 1st when a decree was implemented that allowed for the reopening of South Africa’s international borders for around 60 countries. Those nations were deemed to be lower risk in terms of their citizens’ COVID-19 transmission numbers.
What is the current Covid-19 travel warning for South Africa?
South Africa’s decision to partially reopen its borders was made after careful consideration. It was perhaps the most hard-hit by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, but a tight lockdown and a slow lessening of those restrictions have had a positive impact on the numbers.
When the government decided to open some of its borders to selected countries on October 1st, it was declaring the situation to be safe enough for both its citizens and visitors. By utilizing a clear system to convey the current coronavirus risk levels, health officials have made a statement about how safe it is for people in the country.
The government has proven that it will prioritize safety by enacting such a strict lockdown. As long as holidaymakers are aware of the inherent risk of travel during the pandemic, there are no other current warnings to South Africa, and eligible citizens should feel confident applying for a South African visa.
Are there currently further travel restrictions for people entering South Africa?
For people from the countries that South Africa is allowing vacationers from, there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing a ticket or making further arrangements.
If anyone is making plans to enter Sout Africa, they must first be certain that they are coming from a nation is allowed in. As of now, authorities have made it possible for people from all other African countries to be let into South Africa. Non-African countries where their citizens are eligible to visit are:
● South Korea
● Hong Kong
● The United States
● The United Kingdom
I am from an eligible country, what preparations do I need to make before arriving?
Every passenger arriving at a South African port of entry must present a negative PCR test that was completed within the past 72 hours. Without proof of that negative COVID-19 test, people will not be allowed to enter the country.
It is also crucial to remember that just because things are different than normal, the typical visa restrictions still apply. If you are arriving from a country that requires a visa to enter, then you must be in possession of a valid South African visa. Fortunately, certain countries are eligible to obtain such a visa entirely online.