Summary of the Presidential’s COVID-19 address as South Africa announces international travel ban

Given the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, which now stands at 61, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that a national state of disaster has been declared, and has decided on the following measures:

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  • Limit physical contact 
  • Foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China banned as from Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Visa issuing to visitors from these countries is cancelled from Sunday, March 15 and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.

  • Effective immediately, South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea.
  • Any person who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa. Likewise, South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
  • Travelers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will be required to undergo high intensity screening.
  • All travelers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
  • South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and air ports. Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday, March 16. 2 of the 8 sea ports will be closed.
  • All non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic of South Africa is prohibited. All non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus are also discouraged.
  • Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited. This includes national celebrations by government such as the upcoming Human Rights day
  • Schools will be closed from Wednesday, March 18 until after the Easter weekend. To compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.
  • Tertiary institutions to be consulted, upon which a series of measures will be announced.
  • Visits to all correctional centres are suspended for 30 days with immediate effect.
  • Those who have come into contact with a Wits University student who has tested positive for COVID-19 virus will be quarantined.