South Africa is reopening for tourists, including Americans

Nov 11, 2020

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

One of TPG’s favorite countries — South Africa — is reopening its borders for all tourists. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement today, Nov. 11, saying in a news conference, “We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.”

You’ll need to bring a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours and follow extensive safety protocols.

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Can you Visit South Africa right now?

Ramaphosa announced back in September that some visitors from other countries were again welcome, but those were mostly citizens of fellow African nations. At the time, Americans weren’t welcome. That’s changing now.

We don’t yet know when exactly Americans will again be able to go, but it’s likely to come soon since the country is trying to get an economic boost from tourism. Pre-pandemic South Africa hosted 17 million visitors a year.

Ramaphosa said today, “By using rapid tests and strict monitoring we intend to limit the spread of the infection through importation. We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”

So far, there are few details on any national rapid testing system rollout, but Ramaphosa suggests it’s coming.

South Africa closed its borders to foreign travelers in late March of 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa with more than 20,000 deaths.

Before departure

Travelers must be able to show proof of a COVID-19 PCR test, with negative results, dated within 72 hours of departure time. Arriving travelers who present a negative PCR test won’t need to quarantine after passing health screenings, including temperature checks, at the arrival airport. But any traveler who either fails to present a timely PCR test or shows additional symptoms upon arrival will be asked to quarantine for 14 days in the country at their own expense.

Travelers must also download the South Africa coronavirus mobile tracing app and use it for the duration of their stay in South Africa.

Upon arrival

Foreign travelers entering the country and arriving in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Face masks are required in all public spaces
  • A curfew is in effect each night from midnight until 4 a.m.
  • Most gatherings will be allowed at 50 percent of the venue’s capacity, with 250 people allowed at a maximum indoors, or 500 people maximum at outdoor venues;
  • Individuals may purchase alcohol for personal consumption between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • Beaches, wildlife game parks and other outdoor tourist attractions will be open
  • While hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-based businesses will be open, there may be individual restrictions on capacity and hours, and social distancing guidelines will remain in effect.

Restrictions on alcohol sales may be lifted in the next few days.

Bottom line

TPG loves South Africa, and we hope you do too. We should know soon when you can plan your next trip.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson and Emily McNutt.

Featured photo by Thomas Janisch/Getty Images.

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