South Africa’s wings clipped, as international travel erodes

South Africa’s wings clipped, as international travel erodes
"While certain exceptions are implemented into the current lockdown travel restrictions, it has become problematic with countries now denying people access."

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The list of countries closing their borders to South Africans continues. Coming in the wake of the mutated coronavirus strain gaining ground—many foreign leaders are choosing to safeguard their country by cancelling to and from flights between South Africa.

Read more: Virus evolution cracks on—up to 20 new mutations found in KZN

Presently, the Adjusted Level 3 regulation stipulates all land ports of entry into SA are closed, until 15 February 2021.

International air travel is restricted to the following airports:

  • OR Tambo International Airport.
  • King Shaka International Airport.
  • Cape Town International Airport.

While certain exceptions are implemented into these restrictions, it has become problematic with countries now denying people access.

So far, these are the countries not allowing travel between South Africa:


Ireland tightened its travel restrictions against South Africans, after recently discovering six new cases of the more infectious variant.

Part of the restrictions includes the suspension of visa-free travel from both South Africa and Brazil. Prior to these restrictions, South African travellers were given 90-day travel allowances within the Republic of Ireland, after requiring a visa.

However, South Africans can still travel to Ireland with the necessary immigration permission, which has been granted for either work or study. Upon arrival, travellers will be subjected to strict testing and quarantine procedures.


On 20 January 2021, Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) announced that anybody who has travelled from or through South Africa in the past ten days, would be denied access.

The restrictions will only allow individuals with valid Dubai residence visa holders to return. Additionally, returning residents will need to apply for the necessary travel permission with the GDFRA.


In early January, Vietnam’s transport and health ministries called for an immediate suspension of all flights hailing from both SA and the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom

The UK initially imposed its South African travel ban in late December. The ban has since been extended and will last until 15 February 2021.

United States

The US is the latest in the list of countries with a limited or outright ban on travel to and from South Africa.

US President Joe Biden implemented the travel ban, citing concerns around the new COVID-19 variant.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands government announced flights from the UK, SA, Cabo Verde and numerous South American countries had been banned, resulting in KLM Royal Dutch Airlines suspending SA flights.

Other countries which have put measures into place, temporarily barring South Africans from their country include:

  • Germany
  • Turkey
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Denmark
  • Israel
  • Switzerland
  • Mauritius
  • Panama

Will more countries follow suit and close their borders to South Africa? And what is the impact of these bans?

Share your views in the comment section below.


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