Travel website Skyscanner has developed a new maping tool which shows the Covid-19 travel restrictions in effect around the world.
The map, which takes data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as of 18 March, shows that South Africa has 120 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place.
This means that a country has suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or that entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 97 moderate restrictions in place on South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.
Just eight countries have ‘low-risk restrictions’ meaning that travellers likely won’t have to face enforced quarantine periods.
This week the Irish government extended its visa-free travel ban for South Africa and some South American countries due to concerns around Covid-19.
The measures are designed to support current public health restrictions on movement – including into and out of Ireland – and the decision to introduce the ban was made based on expert public health advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team, said Ireland’s minister of Justice Helen McEntee.
A number of countries have also indicated that travellers from South Africa will be barred from entering – a sign that the country could be facing reputational damage as a result of the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19, which has been referred to as the “South African variant” abroad.
In addition to key target markets such as the US and UK, South Africa has also been flagged as a risk by a number of other European countries including Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland.
The variant was first discovered and reported by scientists in South Africa, however it has also been found to be spreading in more than 48 other countries.
By calling it the “South African variant”, a global impression has been given that South Africa is the source of the spread – when this is not the case.