Today a travel ban from the following countries came into effect for South Africa:
South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain, France* (new addition), Germany, USA, UK & China.
Travellers from medium-risk source markets - Portugal, Singapore and Hong Kong -
will be subject to high-intensity testing on arrival.
Nationals from high-risk source markets will be required to apply for visas
before visiting and their travel behaviour analysed before that is granted.
The implementation of no new arrivals effective today only affects arrivals. It is not a deadline for clients from high-risk countries to leave the country and a number have elected to stay and continue their travels. However many venues, restaurants, bars and attractions are closed and there is a concern that flights out of the country will become increasingly limited.
Previous government advice stated that any travellers from high-risk destinations who did choose to stay on in South Africa would need to present themselves for testing. In our experience, people are not being tested unless they are displaying symptoms or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus. There are designated government hospitals available for tests and all Netcare private hospitals in the country will test individuals without prior appointment (for a fee of approximately $100)
Travellers in Transit
We have finally received confirmation regarding travellers from high risk destinations
· Travellers from high risk countries who are on their way home will be allowed to transit through South Africa. They will be able to do this without a visa if they left their country of residence prior to the introduction of a visa requirement on Sunday 15 March.
(We understand that if they have not been through-checked and need to clear Immigration and collect baggage and then re-check to their final destination, this will be allowed (and again, also visa-free) if they can show their flight ticket indicating their imminent departure. We don't have an answer as yet on whether clients who need to overnight at an airport hotel before continuing on their flight home will be allowed to exit and re-check the next day, although at this point, the goal of the South African government is to repatriate as many people from affected countries as soon as possible and it is unlikely that they will allow technicalities to delay this.)
· Travellers from high risk countries who are transiting through South Africa to another destination (i.e. not on their way home) will not be allowed,
even if they are not required to clear customs
We are working through each affected file steadily under instruction from yourselves. Suppliers are being flexible and lenient with postponements and re-booking options.
Where clients are choosing to cancel, we are asking suppliers to be as lenient as possible. However, many of them are simply not in a financial position to offer full refunds
in the event of a cancellation and again, please be mindful that they bear a responsibility
for a large labour force that they have a financial and moral obligation to support.
There is a very good article in CNN Traveller that is worth sharing regarding this
and also worth sharing with clients:
There is some pressure from the EU and UK trade to waive cancellation fees
in their entirety given their legal obligations to clients based on package travel law.
As you are our partners, we are extremely sympathetic to this and find ourselves
a position where we have to carefully balance your exposure and that of our suppliers,
many of whom run small operations with minimal reserves.
You will see from the CN Traveller article that the SETO (Syndicat des Entreprises
du Tour Opérating) in France just got the go-ahead from the government to delay trips
and issue vouchers to clients, rather than offering full reimbursements,
and we are aware of the travel industry lobbying in the UK and other EU countries
with their respective governments to allow the same. We are hopeful that this
will be successful as it provides some solution to a very difficult conundrum.
Again, a reminder that it is more critical than ever to adhere to your payment terms,
and to bring your account up to date. This is crucial in keeping the supply chain going
in Southern Africa. Please also give urgent attention to invoices for cancellation fees
incurred for March and April as our suppliers are relying on these funds to assist them
through April and May.
Botswana has closed its borders to arrivals from the following countries with immediate effect: China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, USA, UK Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and India.
Botswana residents and travellers arriving via high risk countries will be subjected to 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival.
There is nothing official from the Zimbabwean government regarding arrival bans,
although we do expect them to follow suit shortly.
Zambia will carry out mandatory screening and 14 days quarantine for any arrivals
from the same high-risk areas.
Namibia has with immediate effect imposed ROAD cross border restrictions to
all surrounding countries which include South Africa and Botswana for
an initial period of 30 days.
Remarkably, we are still seeing bookings coming in for August onwards! That's the spirit!
This email was sent by New Frontiers Tours (Pty) Ltd, South Africa