South Africa on Thursday reopened its borders to African travellers, ending a tough six-month lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said the decision to reopen the entry ports to fellow Africans was meant to facilitate the free movement of people, goods and services between South Africa and the rest of the continent.
“To allow ease of travel from other African countries, 18 borders have been opened. The travellers must possess relevant travel documents. And they will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms on arrival at the ports of entry,” Pandor said.
She added: “Thirty-five border posts, however, will continue to offer restricted services due to insufficient capacity for screening, testing and quarantine.”
According to current protocols, daily commuters who reside in cross-border towns, and those who are from neighbouring countries – including those with relevant work permits, school children and teachers – would be allowed to enter and exit the country for education and work purposes, the minister said.
Screening for Covid-19 symptoms would be in place and, where necessary, the travellers would be subjected to quarantine and isolation until they recover, the minister said.
She added that all commuters would, therefore, be expected to observe all protocols like wearing face masks, wash and sanitise hands regularly — and practise social distancing measures during the pandemic which has claimed over 16,600 people since its outbreak in March 2020 here.
President Cyril Ramaphosa first announced the reopening of the borders as part of a major package to ease lockdown restrictions on the economy from Level 3 to Level 1 on 21 September.