As pandemic-induced restrictions continue to affect travelers around the world, it’s heartening to hear news stories that suggest international travel might be soon making a return. Though such stories are few and far between, one such story has emerged in the past day in the form of South Africa.
Africa’s third most visited nation, South Africa has recently moved to lockdown level 1 – its least severe level of lockdown – and has opened five international airports in the process. Here’s what the level 1 restrictions are, and why travelers might want to consider South Africa for their next trip.
South Africa at Level 1 – What Travelers Should Know
The spread of the “South African” variant of Covid-19 caused panic around the world, leading to heightened travel restrictions for travelers who had visited South Africa, and for other countries where the strain was prominent. However, less than two months after posting its highest daily case figure of 21,980, South Africa has rolled back its own lockdown restrictions.
Speaking in a national address last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed the positive news to the nation, citing the fact that the country had clearly passed its second wave as a result of the strict restrictions and observation of basic health protocols.
The move to level 1 sees South African citizens afforded a greater deal of freedom compared to the level 3 restrictions citizens had to adhere to prior to today. Curfew now runs from midnight until 4AM, whilst the sale of alcohol is permitted once more and gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors may now take place. Some restrictions are still in place despite the move to level 1. Nightclubs are still required to be closed, whilst some land border posts will also be closed. Mask wearing is still compulsory, and failure to wear a mask is deemed a criminal offence.
Infection rates in South Africa continue to fall, with fewer than 10,000 infections reported in the past week. The country is also well underway with regards to its vaccination program, vaccinating 67,000 healthcare workers in the past ten days. The country aims to increase its vaccination sites from 17 to 49, as it begins to ramp up the vaccination campaign and return to normality once more.
International Airports To Open
Alongside the move to a level 1 lockdown, the country has also reopened five international airports. The airports in question are OR Tambo, Cape Town International, King Shaka, Mpumalanga and Lanseria – the first three of which are the busiest in the country, welcoming in excess of 30,000,000 travelers in a typical year. Cape Town International was awarded the Best Airport In Africa at the 2020 Skytrax World Airport Awards.
South Africa is popular with overseas travelers, with millions visiting the country each year. British travelers make up the bulk of overseas travelers, with 430,000 reported in 2018, whilst American travelers come second with 376,000.
Visiting South Africa – What Travelers Need To Know
Whilst many countries around the world have imposed restrictions on flights coming from South Africa due to fear of the virus variant, South Africa itself is open to tourists. Those wishing to enter the country must provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate that is not older than 72 hours from time of departure. The test must be recognized by the World Health Organization. Failure to submit a certificate will result in the passenger taking an antigen on arrival at their own cost. Should the test come back positive, the passenger will need to self-isolate – at their own cost – for a period of 10 days. There is no mandatory quarantine.
With the country’s stunning beaches, unmissable safari experiences and perspective-altering cultural experiences – not to mention affordability – South Africa is bound to be on countless lists of places people want to visit after the pandemic. Should variant-centered restrictions on travel to South Africa be lifted, the country may yet welcome tourists again once more in the near future.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories