latest advice as countries finally free of red list

South Africa will finally be removed from the UK’s travel red list, following the latest announcement from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this afternoon.

The new rules come into effect at 4am on Monday, October 11. Until then travellers arriving in Britain from red list destinations are subject to a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine. More than 430,000 British tourists visited South Africa in 2019.

Following the third wave of Covid-19 that peaked in mid-July, cases have been falling in South Africa. As of October 7, its seven-day infection rate is 16.7 per 100,000. By comparison, the UK’s current rate is 381.9 per 100,000.

Here’s everything we know about travel to South Africa.

Can I visit South Africa?

Yes. South Africa reopened its borders to all international arrivals in November 2020, so from their end Britons are welcome to visit.

From the UK side, at 4am on Monday, October 11, the country will be free of Britain’s red list, meaning no hotel quarantine on your return. Until then, those who have been in South Africa within 10 days of arrival will face a hotel stay with bill of up to £2,285 per person. A pre-departure test and two tests in the days following your return are also required. 

Do I need to take a test before travelling to South Africa?

Yes. You must carry a paper copy of your PCR test, taken within 72 hours before departure. You will also need to fill in a screening form prior to arrival in South Africa.

Do I need to quarantine on arrival in South Africa?

Only if you test positive for Covid-19, in which case you’ll need to quarantine as a designated site for 10 days at your own expense. 

Are flights operating?

Yes. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are the only airlines currently running direct flights (though few and far between) from London to South Africa, but other carriers with stopover routes include KLM, Lufthansa and Qatar.

Will my insurance be valid if I go?

Despite its removal from the red list, the The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office currently warns against all but essential travel to South Africa. This means that, unless you have a special travel insurance policy that allows travel to red-listed countries your travel insurance will likely be invalidated.

Is South Africa in lockdown?

Restrictions have eased substantially since the peak of South Africa’s third wave. The country is now under ‘Alert Level 1’. Social distancing measures are still in place and there is a curfew from midnight until 4am. You can read more about the rules here.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Yes, mask-wearing is mandatory in South Africa in all public places.

How is the vaccination drive going?

Slowly. As of October 7, 31.7 per cent of the adult population has had one jab, and 22.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.