Tourism SA hoping Ramaphosa announces reopening of borders in address

The tourism sector has been among the hardest hit since the introduction of the lockdown but there are fears that travellers from outside the country could spur on a second wave of infections.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on 23 July 2020. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – Tourism South Africa is hoping that the president will open the country’s international borders when he gives an update of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 7pm tonight.

Last week, he told the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) that government was considering relaxing some of the lockdown regulations which means that the country could soon move to level one.

The tourism sector has been among the hardest hit since the introduction of the lockdown but there are fears that travellers from outside the country could spur on a second wave of infections.

Tourism South Africa chief executive officer Sisa Ntshona said that they were not expecting an influx once the border regulations were eased.

“It’s been a long five months to kind of get to where we were at and opening up international borders is almost like the last leg to the recovery of the sector We also need to understand the conditions to the opening of the borders.”

South Africa now has the eighth-highest number of infections when ranked against other countries across the globe and accounts for just over 650,000 of the world’s 29.5 million cases.

Professor Alex van de Heerver said the move to level one was long overdue, but the reopening of borders is likely to be cause for concern.

“I think some of the public reports are appearing quite bizarre because they’re suggesting that we’re regarding India and Brazil as low risk and many European countries as high risk, including the USA. The reality is that people are required to have a pretrial test. The airlines have proper protocols and so do the airports. The risk to South Africa are very limited.”

In his address on Wednesday, the President is also be expected to outline a recovery plan which is aimed at responding to the economic fall-out of COVID-19.

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