South African government issues stern warning to travellers this festive season, including travel at your own risk to international destinations and obey curfew times. Picture: Pexels.
South African government issues stern warning to travellers this festive season, including travel at your own risk to international destinations and obey curfew times. Picture: Pexels.

Amendments to level 1 restrictions: Here’s what you need to know before travelling

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Dec 15, 2020

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The festive season will look different this year due to the pandemic. During Monday night's address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa shared new restrictions due to the rise of infections throughout the country.

While he did not shut down travel completely, he did make some amendments to the current level 1 restriction.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor also emphasised in an address on Monday that people travelling outside the country should be mindful of lockdown restrictions before they go.

Here is everything South Africans need to know before they travel this festive season:

Follow all Covid-19 regulations when you travel

Ramaphosa said increased travel was one of the factors that contributed to the rise of infections.

He said: "Many people do not observe prevention measures as they move within cities, towns and rural areas, and between different areas.

"We have to recognise that the more we travel, the greater the potential for the spread of the virus. That means wearing a mask when you are in public transport and making sure that the windows are open at all times.

"It also means reducing the number of people that you spend time with if you are travelling to visit family and friends in other parts of the country," he said.

Beaches

Ramaphosa said that in the areas with the highest rate of infection, beaches and public parks will be closed for the duration of the festive season from December 16, 2020, to January 3, 2021.

This will apply to all beaches in the Eastern Cape, as well as to the Garden Route District in the Western Cape.

In KwaZulu-Natal, beaches and public parks will be closed on December 16th, 25th, 26th and 31st as well as January 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

"The beaches and public parks of the Northern Cape and the Western Cape except the Garden Route will remain open to the public over the festive season. Festivals, live music, and live performances at beaches are prohibited. Beaches and parks that are open to the public will only be open between 9 am and 6 pm.

The situation will be monitored daily by local authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations on gatherings and the prohibition of alcohol. In instances, where there are large crowds or poor compliance with safety measures, specific beaches and recreational parks will be closed," he said.

Longer curfew

Ramaphosa said the hours of the curfew will be longer, starting at 11pm and ending at 4am.

"The curfew is meant to prevent gatherings that go on late into the night while enabling restaurants, bars and taverns to continue to operate and earn an income.

"We should all remember that the hours of curfew also apply to Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve," he said.

Wine tourism

Ramaphosa said registered wineries and wine farms may continue to offer tastings and wine sales to the public for off-site consumption over weekends.

"This exception is being made due to the vital contribution of these establishments to the tourism sector in several parts of the country.

Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden," he said.

International travel

Pandor said during a briefing this week that many countries in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing a second wave of the pandemic.

She said: "South Africans need to be cautious when travelling to these countries as you may become distressed or even destitute abroad depending on the levels of lockdown in the respective countries and with the likelihood of international flights that might be cancelled at short notice.

"Please be aware that if you do travel, you travel at your own risk to these countries. Please be sure that you are familiar with the immigration and health entry requirements of the country you will visit and South Africa's health entry requirements during the pandemic," she said.

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