President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last night that South Africa will move to Alert level 1 on Monday, 21 September. The move will see South Africa re-opening its borders to foreign tourists from 1 October, with travel restrictions to and from certain countries with high infection rates.
Foreign nationals will also be permitted to apply for and renew their visas for the first time since March.
The Department of Home Affairs and VFS Centres will re-open for submissions on the 20th September. Due to social distancing restrictions, Home Affairs will not be operating at full capacity and visa processing times may be affected.
It is expected that VFS will limit the daily number of submission appointments and that representatives may not be able to accompany applicants to their appointments.
Under Level 1:
- some of the country’s border posts will reopen for international travel;
- public events and gatherings can be held with restricted attendance;
- liquor stores can open from Monday to Friday; and
- the curfew has been shortened to between midnight and 4 am.
The tourism sector, which contributed almost 9% to the country’s GDP in 2019, has been hit hard by the lockdown and opening up the country’s borders from 1 October will be a welcome boost to the ailing industry.
Visitors will be subject to containment and mitigation measures.
The move comes just in time for South Africa’s busy summer tourist season, which usually sees thousands of holidaymakers, models and film crews descend on the country.
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