Authorities in South Africa have extended the national state of disaster through Nov. 15. Nationwide Level 1 restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remain in place.
Under Level 1, the following measures are in place:
International Travel Restrictions:
- International travel to and from South Africa resumed Oct. 1. However, only business travelers will be allowed from countries deemed to be high-risk. Business travelers from high-risk countries intending to enter South Africa must apply in writing to the Minister of Home Affairs. A full list of high-risk countries has been provided by the South African Government and will be reviewed every two weeks.
- Three international airports are open for the entry and departure of foreign travelers, namely O.R. Tambo (JNB), Cape Town International (CPT), and King Shaka International Airport (DUR).
- Effective Oct. 1, 18 land ports of entry will be opened. Commercial passenger maritime travel remains banned, though maritime freight will be allowed to dock.
- Those entering South Africa will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival in the country.
- All travelers will be screened upon arrival. Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to take a test. Travelers who test positive will be subject to mandatory quarantine for up to 10 days at a designated facility. Authorities also require proof of accommodation should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
- All retail outlets are permitted to operate as long as social-distancing measures are followed.
- Public rail transportation, minibus taxi, and bus services are permitted but need to adhere to directives following the increase of commuters. These will be announced in the coming days. E-hailing services will be permitted to operate under certain circumstances and between designated hours. More information on this will be announced in the coming days.
- Imported goods will be prioritized for transportation at docks. Further directions will be issued in the coming days regarding other goods.
- A 0000-0400 nightly curfew is in place. Medical personnel and other essential workers are exempt from the measure but require a travel permit.
- There will be no limitations on personal movement, including interprovincial travel; however, people are only encouraged to travel only when essential.
- The mandatory wearing of protective face coverings in public remains in place. Those caught contravening this measure will face fines or criminal charges.
- Social, religious, political, and other gatherings will be permitted, so long as the capacity does not exceed 50 percent of the venue. No more than 250 people are permitted to gather in indoor spaces, and no more than 500 are to gather at outdoor spaces.
- Funeral attendance will increase from 50 people to 100 people.
Authorities have reiterated that the disease activity will determine the increase or decrease of restrictive measures in individual districts, metros, and provinces. Further amendments to updated restrictions are possible in the coming days. The resumption of economic activities in additional sectors is subject to stringent health and safety measures.
Background and Analysis
South Africa's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19.
Stages of the phasing of restrictive measures are as follows:
- Level 5 – Drastic measures are required.
- Level 4 – Some activity can be allowed, subject to extreme requirements.
- Level 3 – The easing of some restrictions on work and social activities.
- Level 2 – Further easing of restrictions, but the maintenance of social distancing.
- Level 1 – Most normal activity can resume, with caution and health guidelines followed at all times.
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. South Africa declared a National State of Disaster on March 15 and implemented nationwide movement restrictions on March 26.
Heed all official advisories and remain nonconfrontational if stopped by authorities. Reconfirm all travel arrangements if traveling to, from, or via South Africa. Shipping disruptions may occur; consider delaying or rerouting shipments. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.