Government sends international travel warning to South Africans

International Relations and Cooperation minister Naledi Pandor has urged South Africans to be cautious when travelling internationally over the festive season so that they do not end up stranded while abroad.

In a media briefing on Monday (14 December), Pandor said that travellers should read up thoroughly on the country they intend to visit as the global situation is ‘unstable’.

She added that South African travellers will likely deal with the possibility of cancelled international flights as well as countries which introduce new restrictions at short notice.

“If the country you visit is a high risk, consider postponing your visit or proceeding with caution if the travel is avoidable. Know the Covid-19 protocols of the country you intend visiting and should you not comply, you might be refused entry.

“Although not common, many airlines will likely require proof of Covid-19 vaccinations before commenting travel. Currently, a Covid-19 test is compulsory.”

Pandor also encouraged South Africans to sign up for travel insurance and to be aware of the contact details of South African embassies.

In a series of gazettes published on 3 December, government updated the travel rules for travellers entering and leaving the country. The biggest changes are as follows:

Persons exiting the country

  • A person exiting the country through a point of entry must be subjected to screening, including the completion of a traveller health questionnaire;
  • A person who, during screening, is found to have had exposure to Covid-19 or is presenting with any signs and symptoms of Covid-19 must be subjected to a medical examination which may include testing;
  • Based on the outcome of this medical examination, the director-general of Health or any delegated person may make a decision on whether or not the person is allowed to exit the country;
  • Persons found to have contracted Covid-19 pursuant to testing, must be placed under mandatory isolation or hospitalisation;
  • Persons placed under isolation may be permitted to self -isolate at their own private residence if they comply with the prescribed criteria.

Persons entering the country

  • A person entering the republic must be subjected to screening on arrival at the point of entry, including the completion of a traveller health questionnaire;
  • A person who, during screening, is found to have had exposure to Covid-19 or is presenting with any signs and symptoms of Covid-19, must be subjected to a medical examination which may include testing and isolation;
  • A person entering the republic must on arrival at the point of entry, provide to the port health official the following – a completed Traveller Health Questionnaire; and a valid negative Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result, not older than 72 hours from the date of departure from the country of origin;
  • A person who is not in possession of a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test result will be subjected to antigen testing at the point of entry and may be subjected to quarantine at an approved facility at his or her own cost;
  • A person who is subjected to quarantine must, on arrival at the point of entry, complete and sign a written declaration committing to adhere to quarantine requirements; (b) will be liable for all costs related to testing, quarantine and transportation;
  • Persons entering the Republic are encouraged to install the Covid Alert SA mobile application on their mobile phones;
  • A person who experiences any signs and symptoms consistent with Covid-19 whilst in the country, must seek medical attention and inform the medical practitioner of his or her travel history;
  • The gazette makes special dispensation for airline crew, daily commuters, freight operators, medical staff and children.

Read: Some nationwide lockdown restrictions in South Africa could be back sooner than expected: analysts

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Government sends international travel warning to South Africans