Indian travellers could be debarred from entering South Africa as the country prepares to resume international travel when it lowers its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on October 1. The South African government is facing dilemma whether it should include BRICS partners India and Brazil on a list of countries that could be debarred from travelling to the country due to the high levels of infections in the two countries, which are currently sitting behind the US in having the highest number of infections in the world.
The list of countries barred from entering South Africa is still being compiled by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, in consultation with other government ministries. It is expected to be finalised by early next week.
The UK and France are also expected to be on the list, which will be revised every fortnight. But restricting travellers from India and Brazil would place South Africa at risk of “diplomatic issues”, a government source told the weekly Sunday Times.
“The argument is, do we continue trade and tourism based on our BRICS partnership or do we close our doors and risk diplomatic issues?” the source told the weekly.
While announcing the lowering of the lockdown to level one, the lowest in the government’s five-level strategy to counter the pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa invited tourists.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane told the weekly that South Africa would use the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation to determine which countries would be allowed to send visitors when international travel resumes.
These guidelines include reviewing transmission patterns, measures for controlling outbreaks in both the departure and arrival countries, and the readiness of the country’s health system to deal with infections.
The minister remained positive about business not being affected even if there were restrictions placed on countries invested in South Africa.
“If a country has been categorised as high risk, someone who has invested in South Africa and has to come back and check their project, is able to apply to the home affairs minister (who) can approve for that person to come, provided they produce a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of travel,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
(With PTI inputs)