With 866,127 COVID-19 cases and 23,451 deaths, South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the African continent, Africa News reported last week.
Despite the staggering numbers, the nation opened its borders to international travelers, as long as they are able to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure, the nation’s tourism site states. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, made the announcement last month. “We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors,” he said, according to Reuters.
But with open borders, the infection numbers continue to rise, and the nation seeks other ways to try and contain the spread.
Ahead of the upcoming holiday season, South Africa announced that it will shut down its beaches in the Eastern Cape province and those in the Western Cape’s popular tourist Garden Route area, according to the Associated Press. The decree goes into effect on Dec. 16 until January. Additionally, beaches in the KwaZulu-Natal province will be closed on public holidays.
Night restrictions have also been extended, with restaurants and bars required to close at 10 p.m. and curfews from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Alcohol sales will also be limited to Mondays through Thursdays.
“If we do not do things differently this festive season, we will greet the New Year not with joy, but with sorrow,” Ramaphosa said on Monday night in a television address, according to the AP. “Many of our friends, relatives, and coworkers will be infected, some of them will get severely ill, and some, tragically, will die.”
As of now, there has been no mention of changing the international travel access, though Reuters reported that Ramaphosa said the recent rise can be traced to large gatherings and travel.
The country’s Department of Health also announced last week that it had launched the pilot of a COVID-19 travel health questionnaire, which debuted today to help with screening at entry points, according to a release.
South Africa had closed its borders to foreigners in March. Anxious to help its tourism industry, the nation first opened its borders on Oct. 1, but only to visitors from certain countries. According to Reuters, tourists from the U.S., Britain, and France did not make the cut at the time.
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