South Africa announced late Wednesday that it will begin easing restrictions on international travel from Oct. 1 amid a decline in coronavirus cases in the continent’s most affected country. 

“We will gradually and cautiously ease restrictions on international travel, allowing travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other travel with effect from 1 October 2020,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.  

Africa’s most industrialized nation banned international travel in late March as one of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. A list of countries will be published based on the latest scientific data,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said upon arrival, travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure.  

“Where a traveler has not done a COVID-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost,” the South African leader announced.  

Ramaphosa also said that all travelers will be screened on arrival, and those exhibiting symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted. 

South Africa has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent and is the eighth most affected country globally with more than 15,700 deaths and over 653,000 confirmed infections. 

The president said that in preparation for the re-opening of borders, South African missions abroad will open for visa applications and all long-term visas previously halted due to the travel ban will be reinstated. 

He said tourism is one of the country’s greatest economic drivers.

“We are ready to open our doors again to the world and invite travelers to enjoy our mountains, our beaches, our vibrant cities and our wildlife game parks in safety and confidence,” he said.

The country has also amended its curfew hours to start at midnight and end at 4 a.m. Previously, the curfew began at 10 p.m.

The sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption is now permitted from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Alcohol will also now be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only and with strict adherence to the curfew.

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