South Africa drops all Covid travel restrictions

South Africa this week dropped all of its remaining travel restrictions, including proof of vaccination or testing for entry to the country, plus mask-wearing in public.

The decision was announced on Wednesday after the country’s Presidential Coordinating Council and Cabinet met to discuss Covid case rates and efficacy of ongoing guidelines.

Holidaymakers and visitors will no longer need to show proof of a Covid vaccination at the border, nor take any tests before travel or quarantine once in the country.

Previously, unvaccinated and partly vaccinated people aged 12 and over had to take a PCR or antigen test before their flight.

Additionally, lingering restrictions on gathering sizes, and the requirement to wear a mask in crowded indoor settings and on public transport, have been removed.

The change in rules was effective immediately, with visitors from Thursday able to enter the country Covid-admin-free.

“Today is a very historic day as we have reached a turning point since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the world and in the country,” said health minister Dr Joe Phaahla in an official statement.

“We want to take this opportunity on behalf of all government to thank South Africans for their support and cooperation over the last two years and three months.”

He confirmed that the country had seen a decline in daily cases, hospitalisation rates and reported deaths by mid-June.

Dr Phaahla also confirmed the current vaccination rate in the country, saying that, as of 22 June, 36,700 million vaccine doses had been administered to 20.09 million adults and 1.9 million children aged 12-17, equating to an average of 50.48 per cent of the population having had at least one dose.

South Africa had set a target of of getting 67 per cent of the population vaccinated by the end of 2021, but met with vaccine hesitancy among locals, particularly those aged under 50.

In his statement, the health minister also confirmed the first detected case of monkeypox in South Africa, saying that the infected person had not recently travelled, so would have contracted the virus within the country.

As a travel destination, South Africa had a tough pandemic, with multiple travel bans imposed on the nation by countries including the UK and US after early cases of the Omicron variant were detected there.

A South African tourism statement said: “As custodians of tourism, we believe that the end of the restrictions is the tonic the sector needs to accelerate the rebound to pre-pandemic tourist arrival numbers and profitability levels.”

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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