More travellers allowed to visit SA as list of high-risk countries is revised

19 October 2020 - 15:33
By andisiwe makinana AND Andisiwe Makinana
The government has amended travel rules to help protect the R82.5bn tourism industry.
Image: 123RF / Travnikovstudio The government has amended travel rules to help protect the R82.5bn tourism industry.

The government has revised its list of high-risk countries and will now allow visitors to SA to stay for three months or longer, subject to Covid-19 protocols.

High-risk countries are defined as those with higher Covid-19 infection or death rates than SA.

The department of home affairs announced the changes on Monday, saying the government recognised that there were a number of regular visitors, mainly from European countries, who have become accustomed to long periods of visitation to SA during summer, when it is winter in the northern hemisphere.

“Most of them own properties in the country. We appreciate the significant economic contribution they make through their activities in the country,” home affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said on Monday.

“To this end, we will also allow visitors, in whichever category, who are coming to stay for a three-month period or more subject to Covid-19 protocols.”

He said during cabinet's most recent meeting, it instructed the ministers of health, home affairs and tourism to lead a process to review the list of countries whose travellers were not allowed to visit SA.

“The review of the list of high-risk countries was done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods,” he said.

People from high-risk countries who can visit SA fall in the following categories:

  • business travellers;
  • holders of critical skills visas;
  • investors; and
  • people on an international mission in sports, arts, culture and science.

Nothing has changed as far as all travellers from the African continent are concerned. They are still welcome to visit the country, subject to Covid-19 protocols.

The government said in the two weeks since its e-mail address had been in operation, 4,701 applications were received, mostly from investors in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism. Of these applications, 3,113 have been approved.

Qoza said these numbers show that, on average, 335 investors a day applied to visit the country, sending a strong message that SA remained an attractive investment destination.

“In response to these numbers, the department of home affairs has increased the capacity of people managing the e-mail account to ensure speedier responses and we will try our best to ensure that responses are communicated within 24 hours,” he said.

People who need to apply must direct e-mail requests to, supported by:

  • a copy of passport and/or temporary residence visa;

  • proof of business activities to be undertaken in SA;

  • proof of travel itinerary; and

  • proof of address or accommodation in SA.

The latest list of high risk countries is: Argentina, Germany, Peru, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Belgium, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Iran, Spain, Canada, Iraq, UK, Chile, Italy, the US, Colombia, Mexico, France and the Netherlands.

When the country moved to level 1 last month, the government announced that it would bar leisure travellers from high-risk countries.

The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills, including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and events, who will undergo the same health protocol screenings,” said international relations & co-operation minister Naledi Pandor at the time.