Europe’s lockdown worsens as SA seeks to open borders

South Africa moved to Level 1 lockdown on 21 September, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an easing of restrictions as Covid-19 cases continue to decline.

Among these it was announced that, from 1 October, travel in and out of South Africa will be allowed again under strict conditions.

According to StatsSA, nearly 16.5-million tourists visit South Africa each year. In 2019 alone, this employed 1.5-million people and contributed R425.8-billion to the economy.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has said that the sector is ready to welcome an increase in activity for both domestic and international tourists.

The restrictions, which have yet to be published, will limit travel to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. This will be updated based on the latest scientific data.

However, South Africa’s move to Level 1 has coincided with the northern hemisphere’s approaching winter – and many countries are seeing a rise in cases, resulting in increased lockdown measures.

According to News24, the 10 leading countries for overseas tourists in South Africa are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. USA
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Netherlands
  6. Australia
  7. China
  8. India
  9. Canada
  10. Italy

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, just yesterday announced increased lockdown measures, including a return to work-from-home; a 10pm closure time for pubs, bars and restaurants; stricter rules around face coverings in public; and strict fines for lack of compliance.

In mainland Europe, France has reported 10 569 new cases; Italy saw close to 1 000 new infections; and Germany reported 1 345 new cases Sunday, and a further 922 cases Monday. As a result, European countries are likely to impose more restrictions on public life in the coming days.

While Americans are, at this point, allowed to travel, the lack of stringent measures at a federal level has resulted in many countries putting tourists from the States on a blacklist.

Australia’s borders remain closed, although it is slowly opening domestic borders. India is also opening domestic borders, but international borders are not yet open.

China opened its international borders to select countries, which at the moment are Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria and Sweden. This list is expected to change according to the situations in each country.

It has also been noted that domestic tourism is on the rise across the globe as people explore their own backyards, rather than risking quarantine or last minute cancellations. A loss of income due to lockdown and an increase in furlough, retrenchments and unemployment has decreased disposable income – all of which will have a negative impact on tourism.

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