International travel high-risk countries

Image via: flickr / gcis

International travel: Govt explains why dozens of countries are off-limits

Minister Naledi Pandor explained the criteria for labelling certain countries as either high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk.

International travel high-risk countries

Image via: flickr / gcis

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Naledi Pandor, on Wednesday 30 September, explained how government went about deciding which countries are considered high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk and therefore, concluded which countries one may travel to under Level 1 lockdown.

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi also revealed the long-awaited list of countries that one may not yet travel to under Level 1 despite the looming resumption of international travel on 1 October 2020. 


The following countries are considered as high-risk. South Africans may, therefore, not travel to these countries and travellers from these countries may not enter South African borders.

  1. Dominican Republic
  2. Ecuador
  3. Faroe Islands
  4. France
  5. French Polynesia
  6. Georgia
  7. Gibraltar
  8. Greece
  9. Guam
  10. Guatemala
  11. Guyana
  12. Honduras
  13. Hungary
  14. Iceland
  15. India
  16. Iran
  17. Iraq
  18. Ireland
  19. Israel
  20. Jamaica
  21. Jordan
  22. Kosovo
  23. Kuwait
  24. Lebanon
  25. Luxembourg
  26. Maldives
  27. Malta
  28. Mexico
  29. Moldova
  30. Monaco
  31. Montenegro
  32. Netherlands
  33. Nepal
  34. North Macedonia
  35. Oman
  36. Palestine
  37. Panama
  38. Palau
  39. Paraguay
  40. Portugal
  41. Puerto Rico
  42. Romania
  43. Qatar
  44. Russia
  45. San Marino
  46. St Marteen
  47. Slovakia
  48. Slovenia
  49. Suriname
  50. Switzerland
  51. Trinidad and Tobago
  52. Turks and Caicos Islands
  53. Ukraine
  54. United Kingdom
  55. United States of America
  56. US Virgin Islands
  57. Venezuela


Pandor said, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria, the government has had to look at infection rates, death rates and use a period of seven days in which to gauge an average “manageable number” which enables one to permit travellers.

According to Pandor, countries that are significantly above South Africa’s rates will remain determined as high-risk countries. Countries that are on par with South Africa will be labelled as medium-risk and countries well below us will be classified as low-risk.

Travellers coming into South Africa must also produce a certified Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from their country of origin to South Africa. The certificate must also have the name and signature of the person who conducted the test. Travellers will also be screened for temperatures despite having a certificate.

Travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted into South Africa unless they are business workers, investors, diplomates or high-skilled professionals. Only three airports will be open for international travel; OR Tambo, Cape Town International Travel and King Shaka International Airport.


Roughly one month ago, after the country had downgraded to lockdown Level 2, there was an outcry for the resumption of international travel. At the time, Mbalula said there were many discussions to be had regarding when to open borders and to which countries. 

Mbalula said international travel, however, should not be rushed into. 

“At the moment if you look at Europe and most of the continent, international travel has begun, not in very fast or high volumes, there is still care in relation to that. We can’t just go fast into it precisely because we have seen what international travel has done when it comes to the spread of COVID-19,” he said. 

On Tuesday 29 September, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the total number of cases in South Africa had climbed to 672 572 with 903 cases reported in 24 hours. 

Mkhizw also reported a further 81 COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total death toll to 16 667. A recovery rate of 90% was also announced.