Travel restrictions are set to be implemented on Wednesday, as the country takes further drastic steps to curb a possible coronavirus outbreak.
These will include travel bans to and from high-risk countries like South Korea, Italy, Spain, Germany, the US, UK and China.
The government will also revoke travel visas previously given to people from countries like Iran and China, and said people trying to come into the country from places that don’t require a visa would now need to apply for one.
Minster of Transport Fikile Mbalula told a press briefing on Tuesday: “Aviation is one of the high-risk sub-sectors of transport which enables high levels of mobility and by extension the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
“As a sector, we are continuously putting measures in place to mitigate the risks,” Mbalula said.
He said the government was on Tuesday night finalising regulations regarding the implementing and enforcing these new regulations.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said travel visas issued to people in high-risk countries, such as China and Iran, would be revoked, adding that more than 8,000 visas had been issued to China and about 425 were issued to Iran in January and February which would have to be revoked, Motsoaledi said.
This applied to people who have not yet visited South Africa, he added.
Countries at medium risk – like Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will also need to apply for visas.
This was not to deny these countries entry, “but specifically in the visa requirement we want a certificate to indicate that they have undergone a test and were found to be coronavirus free in those tests”, Motsoaledi said.
“If they present that certificate as part of their visa application, we’ll certainly allow them in.”
He stressed entry would not be denied based on nationality but on travel history.
“Nothing we are doing is permanent, we are fighting a disease.”
Motsoaledi added South Africans who have dual citizenship might not be allowed back into South Africa upon their return.
“If they come here [to South Africa] and they are from one of the high-risk countries, they will be handled like a person from that high-risk country.”
However, they would be able to leave South Africa if they wished, he said.