Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Botswana extend state of public emergency to Sept. 30 due to COVID-19 activity. Several restrictions remain in place.

Alert Begins 07 Sep 2020 11:13 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Botswana extended the state of public emergency through to at least Sept. 30, to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The majority of banks, shopping centers, and other previously considered nonessential businesses continue to operate as long as social distancing measures and the wearing of protective facemasks are adhered to. Legislation also requires all businesses to collect the name and contact details of people entering business or schooling premises.

Nationwide restrictions that remain in place until further notice include the following:


  • All land and international air borders remain closed. Authorities continue to permit the transport of essential goods, humanitarian flights, foreign national repatriation flights, and the movement of residents into the country; however, those traveling from high-risk countries are not permitted entry into Botswana.


  • Meetings of more than 50 people are prohibited. Religious meetings are permitted as long as capacity requirements and social distancing measures are adhered to.


  • Those entering into Botswana are to produce a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days and are required to produce a second negative COVID-19 on day 10 to signify the end of the quarantine period.


  • Precautionary travel measures, such as safe social distancing between passengers, are in place for domestic flights, which resumed June 12. Health screenings before boarding flights are mandatory.


  • Authorities have divided Botswana into COVID-19 zones to manage travel movements. Inter-zone travel with a travel permit is permitted since Aug. 14. There are restrictions on who can travel. Upon request for a travel permit, travelers may be required to take a COVID-19 test. Permits will not be issued upon a positive COVID-19 test result.


An increased security presence is likely throughout the territory of Botswana. Those who do not comply with the regulations will be subject to fines or a prison sentence, or both. The government is likely to implement or change restrictions with little to no warning.

Background and Analysis
Botswana's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center