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South Africa Has Opened Up Visa-free Travel to These 11 Countries

Home Affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has announced visa-free travel for 11 countries in an effort to boost tourism to the country.

In a media briefing on Sunday (4 October), Motsoaledi said that the visa-free status of citizens of some countries and territories was temporarily suspended at the start of the lockdown period.

“In line with the commitment of Government to take urgent steps to address the economic and tourism stagnation brought about by the outbreak of Covid-19, visa-free status of citizens from a number of countries and territories has been reinstated.”

However, the minister said that visa-free status does not alter the current Covid-19 regulations, including with regards to the bans in place for leisure travelers from high-risk countries, as determined by the South African Government.

The countries include (bolded are high risk):

  • South Korea;
  • Spain;
  • Italy;
  • Germany;
  • Hong Kong;
  • Singapore;
  • USA;
  • UK;
  • France;
  • Portugal;
  • Iran.

Motsoaledi said he has instructed officials to communicate this decision to the aviation industry, embassies and other stakeholders as a matter of urgency.

“The port managers have been instructed to adhere to the SADC protocol and guidelines regulating the movement of essential goods under Covid-19 regulations.

“The guidelines regulating truck drivers travelling across the border will continue to apply as has been the case for the past seven months,” he said.

The minister said that immigration officers will be required to assess the movement and place of origin of the traveller and not the country of origin of the airline concerned.

“Transit travellers through South Africa by air will be allowed to connect to their destinations, subject to them complying with applicable health protocols but need not produce the 72 hours negative certificate.”

High-risk countries 

Motsoaledi said that any person from a country listed as having a high Covid-19 infection and transmission rate, who wish to undertake business travel into South Africa, may, in writing, apply to the Department of Home Affairs and demonstrate reasons for their request to enter the Republic for business purposes during the period of the national state of disaster.

Such applications must be directed to email Covid19BusinessTravel@dha.gov.za and supported by:

  • A copy of passport and/or temporary residence visa;
  • Proof of business activities to be undertaken in the republic;
  • Proof of travel itinerary; and
  • proof of address or accommodation in the republic.

The list of these high-risk countries will be updated fortnightly, said Motsoaledi.

“Immigration officers have been instructed to apply the requirements with a measure of flexibility in order to allow applications for business travel to be lodged at the ports of entry if and when necessary and await the outcome before entry into the republic is allowed,” he said,

All other categories of travellers from medium and low-risk countries are required to produce a certificate of negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure, Motsoaledi said.

“Any person who fails to submit the certificate will be required to quarantine at his or her own cost.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Lion’s Head Has Reopened With Restrictions

Eager hikers can once again make the climb up popular Lion’s Head. The mountain officially reopened to the public last week.

In a statement, South African National Parks (SANParks) announced the reopening comes with a host of protocols.

The following protocols have been put in place:
– Rangers will be positioned at various entry points to check that users are compliant with Covid 19 regulations stipulated by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
– Limitations of user numbers may be imposed at the sergeant ranger’s discretion.
– Maintain social distancing by at least 1.5m at all times.
– Users accessing the summit must wear their masks at all times. No mask no entry.
– Users are to sanitize their hands before and after making use of the staples/ladder and or chain area of Lions Head.
– Picnicking and gathering in social groups is not allowed.
“We encourage all users to adhere to the regulations imposed by the NCC and SANParks to avoid possible re-closure of the iconic summit,” said SANParks.

The popular trail has been closed since June 6 as the hike requires people to use chains and ladders to reach the summit, making these parts high-touch zones.

In a statement at the time, Table Mountain National Park explained: “Due to the nature of the trail, the inability of the visitors to maintain/practice safe social distancing and regular contact in the use of the chains and ladders, makes it a very high risk trail and unsafe to allow users to access the area.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South Africa Moving to Level 1 Lock-down: What Are the Changes?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that a number of South Africa’s lockdown regulations will be relaxed as the country moves to a level 1 lockdown from midnight on Sunday (20 September).

In a national address on Wednesday evening (16 September), the president said that the country has ‘withstood the storm’ in its fight against the coronavirus and that the data shows a clear downward trend in the country.

However, he cautioned that ‘by any measure we are still in the midst of a deadly epidemic’ and said that the most important task is ensuring that the country is not hit by a second wave of infections as is being seen internationally.

To help prevent a possible second wave, Ramaphosa said that the government will expand its testing to include more categories of people. He said that the government also plans to step up its contact tracing capabilities.

Ramaphosa said that South Africa is also participating in a World Health Organisation initiative to ensure access and distribution to a successful coronavirus vaccine at a lower cost. Local experts are also working on a vaccine.

The South African government has consistently reminded citizens to practice strict hygiene habits, and follow safety guidelines, which include wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands, maintaining a social distance of at least 2 metres, and working from home whenever possible.

Eased restrictions

As Covid-19 cases decrease, the president said that the country will move to lockdown level 1 from midnight on Sunday (taking effect at midnight, or 00h01 on Monday), with restrictions eased in the following areas:

Gatherings

  • Gatherings will be allowed as long as the number of people do not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue –  up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings;
  • Maximum capacity at funerals has been increased to 100 people;
  • Night vigils are still prohibited;
  • Venues such as gyms and recreational facilities have had limits increased to 50% of total capacity;
  • Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.

 

Travel

  • The government will gradually ease restrictions on international travel for business and leisure from 1 October – subject to containment measures. A list of permitted countries will be published and based on the latest scientific data;
  • International travel will only be allowed through the main border ports or through OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, or King Shaka International;
  • Travellers will need to provide a negative coronavirus certificate or will be put into quarantine at their own cost;
  • All travellers will be required to install the Coivd-19 alert level app.

 

Other changes

  • The evening curfew will apply between 00h00 and 04h00;
  • Alcohol for home consumption can be sold between 09h00 – 17h00 from Monday to Friday;
  • On-site consumption will be allowed subject to adherence to the curfew;
  • More government facilities will return.

Ramaphosa said that this will be the ‘new normal’ and that updated restrictions will be gazetted over the next few days, providing more clarity.

New economic recovery plan 

The move to level 1 comes after the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) has agreed to an action plan for South Africa’s economic recovery.

The plan is directed towards building confidence and placing South Africa on a path of investment and growth.

“Social partners have identified priority areas for rebuilding the economy as well as structural reforms and other programmes which will enable sustainable and inclusive growth with an intensive focus on job creation,” the presidency said.

While the final details of the plan will only be announced once it is finalised by cabinet, the presidency said that a core focus will be on addressing Eskom’s structural and funding problems.

“Social partners have also agreed on a social compact which commits government, business, labour and community to mobilising funding to address Eskom’s financial crisis in a sustainable manner – in return for an efficient, productive and fit-for-purpose Eskom that generates electricity at affordable prices for communities and industries,” it said.

Another key pillar of the plan will be infrastructure, with a massive development drive seen as key to driving recovery post-lockdown and creating jobs.

This comes after the presidency published a list of ‘priority infrastructure projects’, which is expected to pave the way for the beginning of private investment in a R2.3 trillion programme over the next decade.

To watch the President’s speech, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Here Are the Updated Lock-down Rules for Hotels, Airbnbs, and Restaurants in South Africa

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has outlined the new travel and accommodation rules for South Africa under the new level 2 lockdown.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that the lockdown has decimated the tourism industry with a number of companies closing permanently or introducing mass retrenchments.

The minister said that her department has developed further regulations alongside the move to a level 2 lockdown to provide further clarity in a number of areas. She further outlined the new changes below.


Accommodation

Kubayi-Ngubane said that the regulations announced around the country’s level 3 lockdown will largely remain in place.

The exception are the eased rules around inter-provincial travel for leisure purposes, with all accommodation facilities allowed to accept visitors from outside of their province.

In addition, breakfast and reception areas at accommodation venues must ensure less than a 50% occupancy of floor space.

The level 3 lockdown rules published at the end of June provide that accommodation facilities will be allowed to open for leisure purposes.

However, no more than two people may share a room, with the exceptions of a ‘nuclear family’. The directive states that this includes family members or caregivers living in the same household.

Kubayi-Ngubane confirmed that attractions and theme parks will also be allowed to open under level 2, provided health and safety guidelines are followed.

In terms of Airbnbs, the minister said that all accommodation is open, and it is up to the host of a home-sharing venue to ensure that they are compliant with the sanitation and social distancing regulations.


Restaurants

Kubayi-Ngubane also confirmed that the level 3 requirements will remain in place for the country’s restaurants.

The obvious exception is the reintroduction of alcohol sales for on-site consumption during curfew hours (until 22h00).

Kubayi-Ngubane said that this curfew restriction extends to all establishments – including hotel bars – and that no alcohol may be sold to anyone after 22h00.

The minister also clarified misconceptions around limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants. She said that there is no directive on specific numbers – the emphasis is on space and capacity.

This means that space between tables needs to be in line with social distancing rules, and the number of people allowed in should be relative to a restaurant’s capacity with these limitations in place, she said.

Different restaurants have different capacities and carry different space, so a single number wouldn’t make sense. The limit of 50 people applies only to gatherings, such as weddings and conferences and events, etc.

The level 3 lockdown rules published at the end of June provide the rules that restaurants will have to adhere to as follows:

  • Restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops must keep a daily record of the full names, ID number or passport number, nationality, nature of position (i.e. temporary, casual or permanent), residential address, and cell phone numbers of all employees and delivery persons;
  • Ensure that every employee and delivery person is screened on arrival for shifts and on departing after shifts;
  • Provide employees with masks to wear and hand sanitiser;
  • Ensure that an area is demarcated for the collection of orders for delivery that is separate from the place where food is prepared;
  • Ensure that a contactless pickup zone for customers whose orders are ready to be collected is designated;
  • Sit-down restaurants must conduct a screening questionnaire and take precautionary measures to protect the person and other persons on the premises. Such measures may include denying such a person access to the premises;
  • Ensure that customers or guests wear masks at all times while they are on their premises except when eating or drinking;
  • Ensure that customers or guests queue at least one and a half meters apart behind each other or sideways;
  • Remove excess chairs /stools and tables or tables combined to enlarge the floor space while reducing and spreading seat capacity to enforce distancing of one and a half meters between guests or customers;
  • Consider a reservation system to manage demand, and help ensure that capacity limits are adhered to;
  • No buffets may be offered to guests for self -service;
  • Food may only be plated and/or provided in covered single portions;
  • Guests may pickup pre-portioned items and any other buffet service should be handled by food service employees only from behind Perspex or similar protective shields;
  • Menus must be replaced with non -touch options or sanitised after each guest use;
  • Where possible and for instance while taking orders, waiting staff must stand at least a meter from tables;
  • Where possible, tablecloths should be removed from tables. Only essential items such as salt and pepper, should remain on tables and be sanitised after each guest;
  • Remove excess chairs /stools and tables or tables combined to enlarge the floor space while reducing and spreading seat capacity to enforce distancing of one and a half meters between guests or customers;
  • Items on waiting stations must be minimised;
  • Clearing and cleaning systems with designated containers for different items and sealable refuse containers for food waste must be implemented and used.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Department of Tourism: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for When South Africa Will Reopen for Tourists

The Department of Tourism has published a new draft recovery plan, outlining the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and how the tourism industry is likely to be impacted over the coming year.

The document is a detailed breakdown of international and local projections for when tourism will likely open up, using modelling that takes into account various infection patterns and recovery scenarios.

South Africa’s projections are predicated on international trends, which modelling shows is likely to open up for travel in a wide window of between August 2020 and May 2021.

Depending on the local spread of Covid-19 and recovery scenarios, South Africa’s tourism could start opening up as early as August 2020 in the best-case scenario, the department said – but in the worst-case, the industry could remain shut until well into 2021.


International travel

The policy document notes that the reopening of international tourism and the country borders will not only be dependent on South Africa’s coronavirus response, but also 44 primary source markets which drive international tourism to the country.

To help model when these countries are likely to reopen, pandemic data for individual countries was sourced and manipulated to obtain the pandemic duration, maximum number of deaths per day, date of peak daily mortality and days since peak daily mortality.

Date of peak daily mortality and peak value had to be determined for each country, and if a country had not yet reached its peak, these were estimated either by extrapolation or by setting a peak number and peak factor.

A linear recovery equation was found for three benchmark countries: South Korea (plateau), China (steep) and the United States (very steep). Gradients and limitations were adjusted to apply more optimistic or pessimistic assumptions and develop alternative scenarios.

Lastly, using China as a benchmark, where it took 60 days to open partially and a further 30 days for full domestic opening, the Oxford Lockdown Stringency Index (LSI) was used to approximate the number of days it would take from the point of recording zero daily deaths to full opening per source country.

Using this data, the department forecasts a global tourism re-opening between August 2020 and early 2021.

“This scenario assumes that the general observed recovery trajectory persists and that progress towards enhanced treatments for Covid-19 by the end of 2020 continue, with an accessible vaccine coming to market by the end of 2021,” the department said.

“Since indications of international border re-openings remain speculative at the time of writing, these dates represent the earliest likely date at which international travel will resume.”

The below model shows the estimated travel periods for South Africa’s primary ‘source countries’  for tourism.

  • The model is set between August 2020 and May 2021;
  • For domestic travel (travel within the respective country), the opening window is set between August 2020 and mid-February 2021;
  • For international travel (to and from the respective country), the opening window is set between November 2020 and May 2021.

Localised and global reinfection 

While the above model provides a positive picture globally, the risk of localised or global reinfection waves continue to threaten the global economic recovery and the strength and consistency of projected recoveries therefore come with low levels of certainty.

“As countries begin the process of re-opening, there remains a strong likelihood that trajectories out of lockdown conditions will prove far more fragile than hoped and that contagion risk in neighbouring countries or regions will force many nations to remain closed off from the world well into 2021,” the department said.

For this reason, the department provided two further global scenarios:

  • A more fragile recovery that contains isolated setbacks and takes longer, but still reflects an extension of the current global trajectory;
  • prolonged pandemic where the search for a vaccine proves elusive, herd immunity does not successfully contain transmission and multiple re-infection waves result.

Under the first of these scenarios, the timeframe for early Asian/Australasian re-opening moves from July/August 2020 to November 2020, while core markets (the UK, Germany and the US) can only be expected to return after April 2021.

The second scenario paints an even bleaker picture, with international outbound travel from Asia picking up between May and July 2021 and travel from core markets only returning from November 2021.

“In both of the more pessimistic scenarios, the 2020/21 summer season will be seriously affected, with even the following year’s peak months being under threat.

“This will have grave implications for supply-side survival. Given the modelling outputs and qualitative data emerging from the market, however, the stronger international recovery scenario remains the core outlook,” the department said.

It added that containment of the virus ultimately requires effective treatment and vaccine lead times will be a key indicator of the duration of the stabilisation phase.

This will inform visa policies and port of entry protocols as countries without sufficient herd immunity or access to treatment will seek to limit viral vectors, it said.

“In the interim, temporary and semi-permanent restrictions on traveller mobility are inevitable and unlikely to be standardised across markets.

“Measures such as immunity certification, pre- and post-travel quarantine and mandatory visitor tracking will reassure travellers but also impede the visitor experience”


South Africa

The document notes that South Africa’s pandemic curve thus far resembles the ‘plateau’ shape of countries such as South Korea, Australia and Singapore more than it does the ‘exponential growth’ experience of China, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The implication is therefore that, having successfully ‘flattened the curve’ to prevent health services from being overwhelmed, the country now faces a more prolonged, but less acute battle against the pandemic, the department said.

Using the above model it used for foreign countries, it produced the three following scenarios for South Africa:

  • strong recovery scenario where South Africa is able to contemplate re-opening in August;
  • A fragile recovery scenario, where the horizon shifts out to November 2020;
  • low-road, prolonged crisis scenario where the pandemic rages well into 2021.

Citing data from the South African Covid-19 modelling consortium, the department said that the country is on track for a ‘middle-road recovery’.

Under this outlook, South Africa recovers slower than many other parts of the world but does not lag far behind key source markets in Europe and North America.

“It is therefore likely that tourism recovery will experience a number of phases, from hyper-local community attractions, through broader domestic tourism, followed potentially by regional land and air markets, and then the resumption of world-wide international travel,” the department said.

“The implementation of the government’s risk-adjusted strategy is based on sector-level risk assessments that consider transmission risk across a number of dimensions, including; age of workforce, remote working potential, ability to enforce health and safety regulations and travel considerations of employees.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].