Most of the world has been off-limits to South Africans for the larger part of this year due to the presence of the Beta variant in Southern Africa.
There has finally been a gradual easing of travel restrictions against South Africans by several countries over the period of the last few weeks. There is a growing list of destinations outside of Africa that South Africans may now travel to.
WHERE CAN SOUTH AFRICANS TRAVEL TO?
Effective 18 August Austria reopened its borders to several countries that were re-classified from previously being categorised as virus variant areas including South Africa. The requirement for entry to Austria is full Covid-19 vaccination, with the last vaccination dose having been administered 22 days before arrival in Austria.
Switzerland was one of the first countries in Europe to allow entry to South African nationals. In early July Switzerland reopened its borders to fully vaccinated South Africans.
Effective Sunday 18 July, France has allowed fully vaccinated travellers to enter France without having to quarantine. South African travellers will need to present vaccination certificates to airlines and at French border controls. Travellers are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 twenty-eight days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and seven days after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
On 31 July Germany reclassified South Africa from a virus variant area to a high-risk area and reopened its borders for discretionary travel from South Africa from 1 August. Last week Germany also removed South Africa from its list of high-risk countries. Being taken off the high-risk list means tourists arriving back in Germany from South Africa no longer have to quarantine – which provides a much-needed boost for South Africa’s tourism sector.
Travellers from who have been fully vaccinated with approved vaccines are not required to undergo a quarantine on arrival in Germany. However, those who have not been fully vaccinated are required to complete a 10-day quarantine when arriving in Germany, but may end this after five days, if they test negative.
On 27 August Ireland updated entry requirements permitting fully vaccinated travellers from South Africa to enter Ireland without being subjected to isolation or quarantine. Under the new regulations, fully vaccinated travellers and those with official proof of recovery from Covid-19 – are no longer required to quarantine when arriving in the Republic of Ireland.
Ireland recognises travellers as being fully vaccinated seven days after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 14 days after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Effective Monday 30 August fully vaccinated citizens of all countries, including those arriving from the previously banned countries such as South Africa have been allowed to enter the United Arab Emirates. Both vaccines administered in South Africa are accepted by the UAE authorities.
Entry to New Zealand from all countries is restricted. The country has tried out a travel bubble with Australia but this has been terminated due to the importation of infections by travellers using the arrangement. Only returning citizens and those with residence permits are permitted to enter New Zealand – subject to hotel-managed quarantines.
Australia’s borders have been closed since March last year. Only returning citizens and those with residence permits are permitted to enter Australia at this time. There are hopes that the country will reopen its borders in December but the reopening is likely to be for nationalities with which Australia has created travel bubbles.
Though the United Kingdom – which announced that several nations including Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt and Kenya would be moving off the Red-list for arriving travellers there was no joy for South Africa.
South Africa was left on the UK’s Red-list – meaning that discretionary travel between the two nations is still banned. Those who are permitted to travel to the UK from South Africa are still subject to the self-funded hotel-managed quarantine at a cost of GBP 2285 (R 45 000).
There are indications that the United States will be reopening its borders in early November. Fully vaccinated travellers including South Africans are likely to be able to enter the United States again.
INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS
Closer to home there are several options for a tropical getaway. Both Zanzibar and the Maldives have been open to South Africans pretty much throughout the pandemic.
Mauritius and Seychelles have also recently reopened their borders to South Africans. Direct flights between South Africa and these islands will be operational in the near future.