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Reviewed 5 July 2021
As the COVID situation in 2021 remains precarious, travellers looking to visit South Africa may want to familiarize themselves with the rules and requirements of entry into the country before packing their bags and securing their bookings.
So can anyone travel to South Africa now? What important things do travellers need to know if they are planning to fly to South Africa?
What is the current situation like in South Africa?
South Africa is in the grip of another resurgence of Covid-19 driven by the Delta variant, hitting new record daily cases that centered in Johannesburg.
Vaccination rate in South Africa has been promising, but still behind most developed countries. As of July, just over 5% of the population has been vaccinated.
Coronavirus variants in South Africa
South Africa is where the Beta variant (variant B.1.351) was first identified, but it’s currently not the only dominant variant in the country.
Officials from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases have also detected the B.1.617.2 and B.1.1.7 variants among the South African population.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 or B.1.617.2, identified in at least 85 countries and first detected in India, is likely responsible for the exponentially rising daily number of virus cases in Gauteng.
The second variant, B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant has been detected in 11 cases, South African officials said. This highly transmissible variant was initially detected in the U.K.
The Beta, Delta and Alpha variants are concerning due to their increased transmission rates. Officials have urged South Africans to be vigilant, as the nation battles to secure enough vaccines to achieve herd immunity.
Am I allowed to travel to South Africa now?
There is no strict international travel restriction in place right now, so anyone can travel to South Africa now.
International air travel is restricted to the following airports:
(i) Tambo International Airport;
(ii) King Shaka International Airport;
(iii) Cape Town International Airport;
(iv) Lanseria International Airport; and
(v) Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
All international travellers must provide a valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 test, obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel.
Health screening on arrival
Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country. Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), 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.
Travellers must also download and install the Covid Alert SA app for the duration of their South Africa visit.
A passenger in transit must be in possession of a negative PCR test certificate or a valid COVID-19 negative test certificate, obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel, from an accredited laboratory
If the passenger displays symptoms of COVID-19 must, upon arrival and under the direction of Port Health-
- be taken through primary and secondary screening, including COVID-19 testing, where applicable;
- be quarantined, at own cost, if a positive test result is obtained; and
- if travelling with family, be quarantined, at own cost, with the whole family
Do I need to quarantine if I travel to South Africa?
South African Government states that in the event of your failure, for whatever reason, to submit a certificate as proof of a negative PCR test certificate or a valid COVID-19 negative test certificate upon arrival in South Africa, you shall be subjected to a compulsory 10-day quarantine at a government-designated facility as contemplated for in Health Directions, at your own cost. An immunity passport, risk-free certificate or passport immunity in respect of COVID -19 is not acceptable.
Upon arrival at the airport in South Africa, you will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Should you display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), you will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at your cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, you will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at your cost.
You will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should you need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
What are the things that are open right now in South Africa?
To ease pressure on the health system and slow the rate of transmission, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced tighter lockdown restrictions, moving the restrictions to level 4 of lockdown procedures that include a longer curfew and ban on all gatherings.
The Level Four restrictions mean there’s a ban on all gatherings, whether indoors or outdoors, including for political, cultural, social and religious purposes. The only exceptions are funerals, which are restricted to 50 people subject to the health protocols of masks and social distancing.
A longer curfew will be in place from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Travel in and out of Gauteng province will be prohibited.
Alcohol sales are prohibited, restaurants will be allowed to sell food only for takeaway or delivery, and educational institutions will be shut down.
Are there airlines flying to South Africa now?
As per South African Government’s website, South Africa is currently on adjusted alert level 3 from 16 June, which means that international travel is allowed from all destination countries. However, it is mandatory to follow the protocols in place.
Domestic flights for business and leisure purposes are available from all commercial airports in South Africa.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can I travel to South Africa right now?
Currently, all international flights to South Africa have been suspended. Exceptions are for international flights with the purpose of repatriation, medevac and flights in states of emergency. Check out the full details on Wego Travel Blog.
Is the O.R Tambo International Airport open for international flights?
South Arica is currently under Lockdown level 3, phase 1, meaning that although the O.R. Tambo International, Cape Town International and, King Shaka International airports are currently in operation, no commercial international flights will be allowed to depart. Find out the latest updates on Wego Travel Blog.
Is South Africa open for tourists?
Although pressure has been mounting on the South African government to swiftly resume tourism, domestic tourism will remain on hold until December of this year. Read the full story on Wego Travel Blog.
Is it safe to travel to South Africa?
South Africa has the highest rate of COVID-19-related infection in the whole of Africa. An indefinite, nationwide lockdown is currently in place, and residents are barred from leaving their homes on non-essential errands. Get the full details on Wego Travel Blog.
Are safaris and game parks still open?
Game parks are still allowed to operate under strict conditions and limited capacities. As interprovincial movement is prohibited, only those living in the same province will be offered service. Read the full story on Wego Travel Blog.