South Africa reopens its borders to Africans, but not to France, the United States, among others

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                L'Afrique du Sud a ouvert ses frontières aux voyageurs la première fois depuis qu'elle a été fermée à Covid-19 en mars.  Mais les voyageurs seront soumis à des conditions, y compris un test de coronavirus négatif valide, et la porte n'est pas ouverte à tous les pays. 
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                                    <p>«Pour faciliter les déplacements depuis les pays africains, 18 frontières seront ouvertes», a déclaré mercredi le ministre des Relations internationales Naledi Pandor, ajoutant que quiconque venant des États-Unis, de France, du Royaume-Uni, d'Inde, de Russie, de Suisse ou des Pays-Bas ne le fera pas. être autorisé à entrer.

South Africa has the highest number of cases on the African continent with 674,000 confirmed cases, but it will not allow citizens of those countries with higher Covid-19 infection rates.

There are notable exceptions outside the tourism sector: “Only citizens who are investors, diplomats, highly qualified visa holders and businessmen will be allowed,” Pandor added.

Tourists from non-blacklisted countries are encouraged to visit South Africa, but cruise ships will not be allowed to dock and disembark passengers.

Arbitrary measures

The three international airports, including Oliver Tambo International in Johannesburg, King Shaka in Durban and Cape Town International will be open, along with a limited number of land borders.

Negative tests should not take place more than 72 hours before travel, but passengers will also be subject to additional screening for Covid-19. If a tourist tests positive, they will be quarantined and will have to pay all of their expenses.

While the list appears to apply to essential measures, in reality, governments are putting in place arbitrary measures that resemble the disparate standards from the 9/11 attacks in New York City, says Linden Birns, aviation expert and head of Plane Talking , a public. organization of relations in South Africa.

“In some airports you have to take off your shoes, in some you have to take out your laptop,” says Birns. “The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and other industry bodies wanted to make sure that with Covid-19 a global and consistent set of standards were applied, so that we didn’t have any confusion.” , he adds.

An international working group established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the sister organization of the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (IACO), has developed a set of guidelines for the safety of airlines and airports during the Covid-19 era.

“Now we are seeing countries inventing their own rules again – like South Africa,” says Birns, who tells RFI that the ambiguous set of regulations released Wednesday night was only released for inbound travelers and no for outgoing travelers.

Hope for the travel industry, then dismay

Two weeks ago, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the opening of borders for travel.

“We expect the number of international passengers to gradually increase as this is an important step on the road to recovery,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in September.

Travel experts did not understand why it took so long to put in place the measures, after South Africa had already proven itself in implementing biometric standards for domestic travel in June and July. .

Birns says that “the whole industry has been very disappointed that it has taken two weeks” since Ramaphosa’s announcement. “And the national restrictions put in place are based, it seems, on the infection and death rates for July,” he adds.

Too little, too late?

South Africa is entering the spring season and the tourism and travel industry must start acting quickly to benefit from the reopening of the border.

“We are opening up because we want people to come slowly and start traveling for leisure and tourism. But what the president has ordered is that we have to do it with caution, ”Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

“The industry is crying – across Africa there are four million jobs in aviation and tourism, and in South Africa alone 280,000 jobs are still in place out of the 470,000 that depended on the sector before the crisis, ”says Birns.

South Africa announced its unemployment statistics this week – in addition to an already struggling economy, Covid-19 has seen 2.2 million jobs lost.

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