There will now be only six valid reasons to cross SA’s land borders – until mid-February

Business Insider SA

Level 3 South Africa borders
President Cyril Ramaphosa (Image: GCIS)
  • South Africa’s 20 land borders will be closed with only limited services available, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday.
  • This comes after congestion at the busiest posts were feared to be “super-spreader” events.
  • Overland travel into and out of South Africa will only be permitted for certain reasons, including the transportation of cargo, and for those who hold valid visas.
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Government has decided to close all of South Africa's land border crossings until at least 15 February 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday night.

Crossings will only be permitted under limited circumstances.

He did not say when the posts would close, but previous changes in policy have either been immediate, or implemented within days.

Following consultations with the likes of religious leaders, Ramaphosa said, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) had decided to keep South African on Alert Level 3 until deep into February. The extension come with some far-reaching amendments, particularly for those hoping to travel into and out of South Africa via land borders.

The decision to shut South Africa’s 20 land border posts follows weeks of congestion. Bottlenecks at the Beitbridge border with Zimbabwe and Lebombo post with Mozambique have been described as “super-spreader” events. Thousands of travellers have descended on South Africa’s borders over the festive period, either returning to work or escaping harsher lockdown restrictions, especially in Zimbabwe.

More than 100 confirmed Covid-19 cases have recently been recorded at Beitbridge border, sparking fears of failed containment measures.

“To reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission, Cabinet has decided that the 20 land ports of entry that are currently open will be closed until the 15th of February for general entry and departure,” Ramaphosa said.

These closures are extended to South Africa’s busiest points of entry, including Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg, and Kopfontein.

See also | 20 million doses of vaccine are coming, says Ramaphosa – with no details

Travel into and out of South Africa through these border posts will be only be permitted for:

  • the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods
  • emergency medical attention, for a life-threatening condition
  • the return of South African nationals, permanent residents, or persons with other valid visas
  • travelling diplomats
  • the departure of foreign nationals 
  • daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend school in South Africa.

Ramaphosa added that the full list of regulations and exemptions affecting South Africa’s land border posts would be gazetted.

International travel via airports remains unchanged.  

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