Included in the current response, Ramaphosa announced travel bans from eight high-risk countries, the closure of some points of entry into South Africa, bans on gatherings of 100 or more people, and the closure of schools from Wednesday 18 March 2020 until after the Easter holiday ending on Monday 13 April 2020.
Addressing the current lack of quarantine facilities, Dr Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s health minister, has tasked provincial health Members of the Executive Council (MECs) with locating potential isolation and quarantine sites where people who may struggle to self-isolate, such as those living in informal settlements, can be housed.
According to the minister of transport, Fikile Mbalula, screening facilities will be established at all taxi ranks. Trains and taxis will be expected to be sanitized and an awareness programme will be launched, however, no airports are being closed yet. Surveillance, screening and testing measures of passengers at OR Tambo will be increased.
South Africa is closing 12 of the 17 border posts with Botswana, nine of the 14 posts with Lesotho, three of the four with Mozambique and five of the seven with Namibia. South Africa’s border post with Zimbabwe at Beitbridge will not be closed.
As of 18 March 2020, a travel ban on foreign nationals will come into effect. This includes cancelling visas, revoking those previously granted and denying visas to foreign nationals who have visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days. The eight high-risk countries include: Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, UK, and China. Travelers from medium-risk countries, such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore, will need to be screened before coming to South Africa. Citizens from the eight high-risk countries who are already in South Africa on temporary permits will not be affected.
The flow of trade in goods remain largely unaffected, beyond the additional pressure on the remaining open ports and a potential slowdown in border crossings (including at airports) from cautious staff and the additional capacity required for passenger clearance. Government still has some space to increase emergency measures and South Africa is not yet at a stage of national shutdown, rather taking a targeted and measured approach on surveillance, screening and testing of persons entering the country.