NCCC announcement on the re-opening of the borders for international travellers
In a press briefing held today, 30 September 2020, South Africa’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) released further information on the re-opening of borders and ports of entry for international travellers, effective from tomorrow, 1 October.
Based on the latest WHO criteria on infection and death rates, South Africa has developed a risk categorisation model for different international travellers. This model classifies international travellers according to a scale of high, medium and low risk.
High-risk travellers are those who come from countries with higher numbers of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.
Medium risk travellers are from countries with a relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa. Low-risk travellers originate from countries with lesser number of infections of COVID-19 and death toll than South Africa.
The list of countries and categorisation will be reviewed every two weeks and updated based on the latest WHO figures.
- Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted.
- Exceptions will be made for individuals from high-risk countries who are business travellers with scarce and critical skills, diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and cultural events.
- If the passport of the traveller from a high-risk country indicates that they have spent 10 days or more in a low-risk country before departure, they will be considered to be arriving from a low-risk country and subject to the low-risk entry requirements.
- Airlines from high-risk countries are not necessarily banned, but their crew will be required to isolate in facilities at designated accommodation at the cost of their employer.
- Travellers (leisure, business and other) from medium- and low-risk countries will only be allowed into the country subject to the prevailing visa requirements.
- Travellers from all African countries are allowed and must possess relevant travel documents and will also be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
The list of countries currently considered high risk, and from which leisure travellers are not allowed can be found published by Business Insider. This list, beginning with the Dominican Republic is believed to be incomplete at the moment, omitting countries A-D. We are currently working to source the official and complete list and will update members as soon as it is known.
Borders to reopen
Johannesburg’s OR Tambo, Durban’s King Shaka and Cape Town International Airports are the only airports that will allow international air travel to arrive or depart.
The 35 land borders that were closed during the previous lockdown levels will remain closed. The 18 land borders which were partially operational during the previous lockdown levels will be fully operational (i.e. allow passage of South Africans and permitted foreign nationals).
Entry requirements for all arrivals
- A valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, obtained not more than 72 hours (3 days) from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. The test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and the certificate must have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted the test.
- Failure to present proof of a valid and negative test will require the traveller to quarantine at their own cost.
- Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms and/or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
- Travellers must provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country, subject to the accommodation allowing for self-quarantine.
- Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person, they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
- All travellers will be asked to download the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app.
- Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers to covers any cost of testing or quarantine.
- It is the responsibility of the airlines to check that passengers boarding flights to South Africa meet the requirements of entry.
The Department of Home Affairs is extending the validity of legally issued visas which expired during lockdown to 31 Jan 2021. This pertains to visa holders currently in South Africa who will be allowed to remain in the country under the terms of their visa. From now until 31 January, they will also be able to depart South Africa on an expired visa without being declared ‘undesirable’.
DHA services for ID cards and passports will resume in full as well as visa submissions through VFS.