South Africa will reopen its borders to all African countries from Thursday while barring tourists from around 50 nations with high coronavirus infection rates, the government said on Wednesday.
The continent’s most industrialized economy obstructs its borders at the start of a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 to limit the spread of the virus.
Borders stayed sealed to avoid importing the virus from abroad as the restrictions on movement and business have been gradually eased since June.
Restrictions were in place for around 50 countries categorized as high risk include Britain, the US, India, Russia, and France, foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said the country would “gradually” open borders.
“Only business travelers with scarce and critical skills, diplomats, investors, and professional sportspeople coming for events from the high-risk countries will be allowed into the country,” she said.
Pandor added, meanwhile, “travelers from all African countries are allowed.”
The country will reopen three main airports in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, and some land borders.
All travelers will be required to present a negative coronavirus test taken less than 72 hours earlier to departure.
They will be checked upon arrival and asked to install a coronavirus tracing app on their mobile phone.
The travel restrictions will be evaluated every two weeks.
With 672,572 infections and 16,667 deaths recorded to date, South Africa has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic around half the total number of cases detected on the continent.
Pandor said the countries with restrictions have a greater number of infections and deaths compared with South Africa.