The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories – including South Africa.
South Africa has now been ranked at level 3 by the organisation – alongside countries such as France, Mexico, Canada and Russia. This is a downgrade from the highest level 4 ranking which discouraged all travel to the country.
Level 3 suggests that tourists ‘reconsider travel’ but does not actively advise against it.
The CDC’s recommendations have subsequently been adopted by the US state department which has acknowledged the lower rating for the country.
While travel to South Africa is still not recommended due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, US travellers who are fully vaccinated using a recognised vaccine do not have to get tested before leaving the United States, unless their destination country requires it.
They also do not have to self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
The CDC told Reuters that the new criteria for a level 4 ‘avoid all travel’ recommendation has changed to 500 cases per 100,000 from 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000.
The agency added that many countries have lower ratings “because of the criteria changes or because their outbreaks are better controlled.” The CDC said it expects more countries to get lower, more favourable travel ratings going forward.
However, all air passengers coming to the United States, including citizens and fully vaccinated people, are still required to have a negative Covid-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 in the past three months before they board a flight to the United States.
The move could be a boon to travel in South Africa, which has faced travel restrictions from its key source markets including the US and UK for more than a year.
A mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 20 May, South Africa has 51 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place.
These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 103 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.