New travel rules: Here’s what curfew means for flights, and long-distance busses

Business Insider SA

Travel Level 3 lockdown South Africa
(Getty Images)
  • Local and international airlines must cancel any flights which break the 21:00 to 06:00 curfew, says transport minister Fikile Mbalula.
  • That is despite the National Coronavirus Command Council offering a reprieve to international arrivals.
  • Long-distance busses and taxis will be allowed to operate during the curfew hours though, if Mbalula’s amendments are accepted by government.
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South Africa’s adjusted Level 3 lockdown, which comes with an extended curfew between 21:00 and 06:00, will now have to see international airlines adjust their schedules – but long-distance busses can complete late-night journeys.

Regulations associated with maritime operations and cross-border travel remain unchanged from the previous Level 1 lockdown, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday, but the aviation sector has to make changes.

In consultation with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Mbalula announced that no international or local flights may be in the air during curfew.

Local airlines have already realigned their flight schedules. Mbalula has now urged international airline to “fly in the morning”.

Additional transport regulations would be gazetted following engagements with members of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), he said.

Earlier in the week, NCCC members Ronald Lamola and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, of correctional services and co-operative governance, respectively, said that international travellers would not be hindered by the new curfew restrictions. Both ministers added that visitors arriving from abroad would be allowed to complete their journeys beyond curfew, on condition that they could provide proof of their travels if questioned by law enforcement.

The amendments Mbalula has now announced, just days later, do not afford similar reprieves.

Long-distance busses and taxis have been given a break, though. Although not yet finalised, Mbalula said he would petition the NCCC to allow for long-distance busses to complete their journeys beyond curfew.

“Taking into consideration that many people will be travelling long distances to return to their places of work during the first weeks of January, we have placed a proposal on the table to allow long distance busses and taxis to complete their journeys should these fall within the curfew hours,” explained Mbalula.

“We are still in consultation with the relevant authorities on this matter,” he added.

This curfew reprieve does not waive health and safety protocols applicable to long-distance busses and taxis, which are still required, by law, to only carry 70% of the vehicle’s legal passenger capacity.

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