What is the change? In a national address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced travel bans, visa cancelation and other measures as the world copes with COVID-19. South Africa has recorded 61 cases of the virus and Ramaphosa said the number of cases is expected to rise in the coming weeks.

Key travel restrictions:

  • Travel ban. Starting March 18, foreign nationals from the following high-risk countries will be banned from entering South Africa: China, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. All travelers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
  • Visas. With immediate effect, visas granted to nationals of the above countries are canceled. Any foreign national who has visited a high-risk country in the previous 20 days will be denied a visa.
  • Screening. Travelers from medium-risk countries, including Hong Kong, Portugal, or Singapore, will be required to undergo intensive screening.
  • South African citizens. South African citizens returning from a high-risk country will be subject to testing and either self-quarantine or quarantine upon return. South African citizens are advised to immediately refrain from travel to or transit through the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and other high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea. Travel within South Africa that is non-essential, particularly by air, train, taxi or bus, is also discouraged.
  • Ports of entry. Thirty-five of the 53 land ports will shut down starting March 16. Screening and testing measures will be strengthened at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports.
  • Groups. Gatherings of more than 100 people are banned in South Africa.

Analysis & Comments: Companies should identify travelers who are subject to the travel ban, as well as visa holders and visa applicants affected by the new visa policies, and rearrange schedules if necessary. The situation is fluid and additional countries may be identified as high-risk and subject to travel restrictions. We are closely monitoring these developments and will report on changes as information becomes available.

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