A long list of countries will be red-listed by South Africa, ministers announced on Wednesday, including the USA and UK. "Ordinary" travellers – tourists without business in SA – will not be allowed from those countries. (Note: the list below was updated on 01 October 2020.)
Everyone travelling to SA will be required to show a recent, negative test for the coronavirus, and must have travel insurance in place. Below is South Africa's red list for travel.
South Africa will use its own level of coronavirus risk to determine what countries are considered high, medium, or low risk, international relations minister Naledi Pandor announced on Wednesday at a press conference on new travel measures.
Those with significantly higher levels of infection spread and deaths than South Africa will be rated as high risk – and leisure travellers from those countries will not be permitted entry into South Africa.
The only exceptions will be those with high-skills visas, diplomats, sports people, and investors.
“We’ve agreed that we will gradually open our borders and ports of entry of international travellers, primarily in the first instance for business and some leisure travellers," Pandor said – strongly stressing that it will be "some" leisure travellers – "and other aspects of travel such as investors coming into South Africa [and] sea crews that need to spend a short time, having docked in our ports. So we still are in a restricted domain, but we are gradually opening up."
The list of countries currently considered high risk, and from which ordinary tourists are not allowed includes:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- Puerto Rico
- United Emirates
- United Kingdom
(This list was updated on 01 October 2020.)
All countries on the African continent automatically fall outside the high-risk category, ministers said, so tourists will be allowed to travel to and from those countries regardless of their SARS-CoV-2 statistics.
"If the passport of the traveller from a high risk country indicates that he/she has spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, he/she will be considered to be arriving from a low risk country," one government statement said.
The list will be reviewed every two weeks, Pandor said, based on seven days worth of data.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the reopening of South Africa's borders for leisure travellers in mid-September, and immediately cautioned that there may be restrictions for travel to and from some countries, "based on the latest scientific data we can get on those countries".
There had been no indication from the government in the intervening two weeks as to what metrics would be used
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All travellers, including those from elsewhere in Africa, will be required to present a negative test result for the coronavirus that is less than 72 hours old, or face quarantine.
Airlines will also be required to ensure that travellers to South Africa have travel insurance before boarding, Pandor said.
Several airlines expect to resume flights to South Africa, including from countries with high and rising rates of infection.