It was all sounding so good, but like many things in the covid-19 era, South Africa’s reopening to tourism was always going to be subject to change.
Whether people like it or not, and apparently many do not, South Africa is taking a harder line against visitors from countries with “high” rates of infection than expected, leaving travelers from key markets including the UK, France and the USA out of initial plans. With airlines planning to start flights as of this week, it’s chaos all around.
South Africa Bans High Risk Travelers
South Africa reopened international borders on October 1st, but not at all how many expected. When the country failed to provide a list of countries it deemed high risk in meaningful advance of borders opening, many believed it would not specifically ban visitors from any area, due to the strong covid-19 testing protocols required to enter the country for all, and health screenings on arrival too.
But, in a jumbled, utterly chaotic fashion, South Africa used the last two days of the month to let the world know that effective today, October 1st, leisure visitors from high risk countries would not be allowed to enter. Let’s hope no leisure travelers from the USA, UK or a variety of other countries were already on board.
Exceptions for travelers from South Africa’s list of “high risk countries” will only be made for business travelers, high skill visas, diplomats and “sports people”, according to tourism ministers. So which travelers are left out of initial tourism plans?
Here’s the list of countries currently on South Africa’s “red list”, from which all leisure travelers are not welcome, including…
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- Puerto Rico
- United Emirates
- United Kingdom
Currently, the only way around entry bans for tourist arrivals from these countries is to spend 10 days in a country deemed low risk, at which point South Africa will consider a person eligible for entry. This, like everything else, is subject to change.
When Will South Africa’s List Change?
South Africa promises to recalibrate its dreaded “red list” on a rolling two week basis, meaning although US, UK and most European travelers are currently banned, that may not be the case circa mid October. Naturally, without any assurance your country will leave the list, or remain off the list makes it incredibly hard to plan future trips.
The South African Department of Home Affairs website is the best resource to confirm any entry changes.
This very issue is a key reason airlines and tourism officials are pushing for greater testing access, to offer double testing to eliminate “knee jerk” moves which change entry eligibility. Few people are booking trips to South Africa on less than two weeks notice.