South Africa Lifts Intra-Country Travel Ban Today

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South African president announced on Saturday that the country would move from level three to two restrictions starting this Monday, allowing domestic leisure travel and restaurants and bars to reopen.

It is still not clear when the country would welcome foreign visitors. The government back in February (read more here) stated that they wouldn’t reopen for international leisure arrivals before February 2021.

Here’s an excerpt from the IOL:

President Cyril Ramaphosa will lift the ban of inter-provincial travel when the country goes into alert level 2 from midnight on Monday, August 17.

Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Saturday night, revealing that travel between provinces are allowed for any purpose and all parks, beaches and nature reserves will be opened for outdoor activity.

He said in his address: “Guided by the advice of our health experts and after consultation with provincial and local government, Cabinet has decided to place the entire country on alert #level2, with effect from midnight on Monday, the 17th of August 2020.

“Therefore, the following changes will take effect under level 2: All restrictions on inter-provincial travel will be lifted. Accommodation, hospitality venues and tours will be permitted according to approved protocols to ensure social distancing.

“Restaurants, bars and taverns will be permitted to operate according to approved protocols as to times of operation and numbers of people.”

And here’s from Reuters:

Despite imposing one of the world’s toughest lockdowns when the country had only a few hundred cases, South Africa saw a surge in coronavirus infections that left it with the fifth highest number of cases in the world — currently around 579,000, of whom around 11,500 have died.

The COVID-19 crisis has battered an economy already in recession and pushed millions of South Africans deeper into extreme poverty.

But Ramaphosa said rates of new infections had fallen to an average of 5,000 a day, from a peak of 12,000 a day.

Conclusion

The Covid-19 pandemic has been very problematic to South Africa that lacks the number of acute hospital beds required to deal with sickest covid patients.

The country has reported around 12,000 coronavirus related deaths compared to more than 33,000 excess ones during a period from early May to early August. Most Covid-19 related deaths are not recorded as such.

I was in South Africa this past February for two weeks. Flew from London on February 4h and left on TAAG from Cape Town on February 17. The country was still business as usual back then but instituted strict travel and other restrictions a month later.

While international tourism is important to South Africa, 56% of tourism spend is domestic, according to Stats SA.

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