International travel is coming: what we know so far

South Africans will be allowed to resume overseas travel in October — but what does this mean for your holiday abroad?

17 September 2020 - 15:43 By Sanet Oberholzer
It's time to dust off that passport.
It's time to dust off that passport.
Image: 123RF/Instinia

On Wednesday, South Africans received the news so many of us have been waiting for: international travel for business and leisure will be allowed to resume from October 1 2020.  

But as we’re not out of the woods yet in terms of Covid-19 infections, international travel will be allowed only under certain containment measures.

For starters, travel may be restricted to and from countries that are still recording high infection rates. While President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t elaborate on this point during his televised update on the state of the pandemic in the country, the presidency will be publishing a list of these countries in the next few days, taking into consideration the latest available scientific data.

Only OR Tambo International, Cape Town International and King Shaka International airports will be open to foreign travellers and overland travellers will have to make use of the border posts that remained open under lockdown.

“On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure. Where a traveller has not done a Covid-19 test before departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost,” Ramaphosa said.

Furthermore, all travellers will be screened upon arrival. Travellers presenting symptoms will have to quarantine until a repeat Covid-19 test has been conducted.

It was not made clear whether these measures will apply to both foreign visitors and South Africans returning from a trip abroad. While the same guidelines might apply to both sets of travellers, we could expect country-specific guidelines outlining the need to quarantine upon your return to SA to be published with the list of countries South Africans will be allowed to travel to.

To manage Covid-19 infections, all travellers will be required to install the Covid Alert SA mobile app which uses Bluetooth technology to alert users if they’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 14 days.

While no official statements have been made in terms of where South Africans will be permitted to travel to, some predictions have been made with regard to travellers who will be restricted from entering SA, including those travelling from high-risk countries like the US and major EU countries.

A small contingent of artists, musicians and creatives protested at the Union buildings in Pretoria on September 16 2020. The protesting artists say that government has not done enough to support an embattled industry during the coronavirus pandemic.