S Africa eases COVID restrictions for vaccinated travellers

South Africa, the African country most affected by COVID-19, is relaxing restrictions in a move to boost tourism.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wears a face mask
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wears a face mask as he looks on during a visit with Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Patrick Achi in Abidjan, Ivory Coast December 3, 2021 [Luc Gnago/Reuters]

South Africa, the country in Africa worst affected by coronavirus, has relaxed some of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, dropping mandatory negative results for inbound fully-vaccinated travellers, a move expected to boost tourism.

On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement to scale down restrictions – imposed since March 2020 – as new infection rates slow and death rates decline.

“Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours,” said Ramaphosa.

Previously all travellers entering the country were required to produce a costly negative PCR test.

Inside the country, vaccinated individuals or those that have a negative test result will be allowed back into sporting stadiums and music and theatre shows – which will be permitted to operate at half capacity.

“Both indoor and outdoor venues can now take up to 50 percent of their capacity provided that the criteria for entrance are proof of vaccination or a COVID test not older than 72 hours,” he said in an address broadcast live on local television stations.

The mandatory wearing of face masks when outdoors has been scrapped, but will remain mandatory in public indoor spaces.

“With these changes, almost all restrictions on social and economic activity will have been lifted,” said Ramaphosa.

As of Tuesday, South Africa had recorded a total of 3,705,696 laboratory-confirmed cases, including 99,893 fatalities out of a population of 59 million.

Source: AFP