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Covid-19 Updates South Africa

Here is the timeline of the travel industry affected by Covid-19

30th September 2020 - New regulations and List of countries barred from entry.

30th September 2020

South Africa will open its international borders for the first time in over six months on Thursday (1 October) as part of the country’s move to a level 1 lockdown.

International Relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor said in a media briefing on Wednesday that the country’s infections rate has gone down and the country can return to a ‘more normal’ situation.

She said that the government has developed a list of high and low-risk countries which will be allowed to travel to and from the country based on World Health Organisation guidelines over a seven-day period.

High risk travellers are those who come from countries with higher numbers of Covid-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.

Medium risk travellers are from countries with relatively equal number of infections and death toll to SA.

Low risk travellers obviously originate from countries with lesser number of infections of Covid-19 and death toll than SA.

This list will be updated on a regular basis, reviewed every two weeks, Pandor said.

Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted. The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and, events will undergo the same health protocol screenings.

“Travellers that intend to visit the country will need to produce a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin,” Pandor said.

“The test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and must have the name and signature of the person who conducted the test.”

Upon arrival, travellers will be screened for any Covid-19 symptom s and will also be screened for contract with people who have been in contact with others who could have had Covid-19.

Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation addresses in case they need to self-isolate. International travel around the world has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Those who are found to have Covid-19 after entering the country will be required to isolate for 10 days at their own cost.

Travel insurance will be mandatory for all travellers.

If the passport of the traveller from a high risk country indicates that they spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, they will be considered to be arriving from a low risk country.

Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that the following countries are considered high-risk, where travellers will not be allowed into the country:

Update from Home Affairs: “Earlier today, a list of high risk countries was read at a Press Conference. Unfortunately this list was not exhaustive, and might also have included some countries by mistake. We are hereby releasing the whole updated list, and we heartily apologize for any confusion and any inconvenience caused by the earlier release.”

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Luxemburg
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Suriname
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • Venezuela

South Africans are free to travel to any country that currently allows travellers from the country to visit.

Travellers from African Countries

To facilitate free movements of people, goods and services from South Africa, SADC and the African continent, travellers from the neighbouring countries are allowed to visit our country, said Pandor.

Travellers from all African countries are allowed and must possess relevant travel documents, and will also be screened for Covid-19 symptoms.

To allow ease of travel from the African countries, 18 borders will be opened. 35 border posts will continue to offer restricted services due to insufficient capacity for screening, testing and quarantine. Travellers who present themselves at borders which are unable to accommodate them will be directed to the currently operational border posts for processing.

Daily commuters who reside in cross-border areas/towns and those who are from neighbouring countries including those with relevant work permits and school children and teachers will be allowed to enter and exit the borders for work purposes.

These commuters will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms and where necessary will be subjected to quarantine and isolation. Furthermore, these commuters will be expected to wear face masks, wash hands and sanitise regularly and practise social distancing measures.

Additional rules 

In an analysis of the new level 1 lockdown regulations, Ahlisha Yesmariam of  law firm Baker McKenzie outlined the following points which will also need to be followed by travellers:

  • The 35 land borders that are currently closed, will remain closed and the 18 land borders which were operating on a partial basis will be fully operational.
  • International air travel will be restricted to the following airports:
    • OR Tambo International Airport
    • King Shaka International Airport
    • Cape Town International Airport
  • Travel to the Republic of South Africa will remain prohibited for travellers from high-risk countries (countries with high Covid-19 infection and transmission rates).
  • International travel from high-risk countries will remain prohibited except for business travel, which may be allowed with the approval of the Home Affairs Cabinet member.
  • Travel to and from the Republic of South Africa will be allowed, subject to those travellers entering the Republic being from low risk countries only, and who adhere to the below requirements:
    • The traveller must provide a negative Covid-19 test that has been obtained no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel;
    • If the traveller is unable to produce a negative Covid-19 test, the traveller will be required to quarantine at their own cost.
  • All commercial seaports will be opened.
  • Subject to the compliance protocols for entering and exiting the Republic of South Africa, daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend or teach at a school will be allowed to enter and exit the Republic.
  • Certain visa application services on offer will resume at Home Affairs from this week. This list will be under review and will be amended as required.
07th August 2020 - MSC Cruises introduces new health protocols world-wide


Geneva, Switzerland, 3 August, 2020 – Speaking today at a press conference held in Italy, MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato revealed the full details of the Company’s comprehensive health and safety protocol that has been developed to support the restart of operations in the Mediterranean, designed to protect the health and safety of guests, crew as well as the local communities that the Company’s ships will visit.
MSC Cruises has been working closely with the different authorities in the countries where the Company’s ships will call, to develop a comprehensive protocol. A dedicated task force, with the input and support of leading external medical experts, developed a robust protocol with new MSC Cruises specific operating procedures that go beyond the actual regional and national guidelines and effectively set a new standard. Additionally, RINA, the independent maritime certification corporation, has verified that the protocol meets the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Guidance, which incorporates additional health standards including those from the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action.”
MSC Cruises has developed comprehensive operating procedures, that build upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board the Company’s ships. The new procedures include universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation, protected ashore visits at each destination only with an MSC Cruises excursion as added level of protection for guests and the introduction of a COVID Protection Plan for further peace of mind for guests. With all of these measures in place MSC Cruises aims to offer guests the safest possible holiday.
MSC Cruises has worked to encompass every aspect of the guest’s journey from the moment of booking to embarkation, life on board and through to the return back home, whilst preserving the uniqueness of the guest experience.
Restart with Mediterranean Itineraries
MSC Cruises is preparing for a potential restart this summer in the Mediterranean, which in terms of the current development of the pandemic and its tourist attractions, is where the Company’s guests would want ships to be deployed. So, whilst awaiting the necessary final approvals two MSC Cruises ships are making preparations –flagship MSC Grandiosa and popular ship MSC MagnificaMSC Grandiosa will offer 7-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean. Their actual departure dates will be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities. The itineraries that are planned, include Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising and where they have approved the health and safety protocol to support our restart of operations.
For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two MSC Cruises ships operating in the Mediterranean for the current summer season will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries[1]. Additionally, their itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing where possible, the need for guests to use of public transport or flights and have been planned in conjunction with the authorities.
MSC Cruises’ Comprehensive Health and Safety Operating Protocol Aims to Set a New Standard
Having set up a cross-functional task force comprised of in-house experts in the areas of Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Hotel Services, HVAC and other Shipboard Engineering Systems, Information Technology and Logistics, MSC Cruises engaged leading global healthcare provider Aspen Medical to further assist with the development of the protocol and operating procedures. In addition, a blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group has been established– a panel of highly qualified and internationally respected experts to inform and review our initiatives ensure that the actions taken are appropriate, effective, and informed by the best available science and health practices.
Combining new data and research into COVID-19, an improved understanding of the virus and how it behaves with the latest technology in screening and protecting people from possible contagion, the new operating protocol is designed to prevent and mitigate the risk of transmission during an MSC Cruises holiday. It includes the following pillars in terms of precautionary measures and response planning:

  1. Universal health screening of guests prior to embarkation that comprises three comprehensive steps –, a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the screening results and according to the guest’s medical or travel history, a secondary health screening or testing will take place. Any guest who tests positive, displays symptoms or a temperature will be denied boarding. Following guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, guests travelling from countries categorised as high risk will be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test, to be done within 72 hours prior to joining the ship. All crew members will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation as well as regularly during their contract;
  2. Elevated sanitation and cleaning measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and the sanitation of the air on board with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes;
  3. Social distancing will be enabled through the reduction of the overall capacity of guests on board, allowing for more space for guests, approx. 10 m² per person based on 70% overall capacity. Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and guests should pre-book services and activities to manage guest numbers. When social distancing is not possible, guests will be asked to wear a face mask, for instance in the lifts. The face masks will be provided daily to guests in the cabin and will be available around the ship.
  4. Enhanced medical facilities and services with highly qualified staff trained, the necessary equipment to test, evaluate and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and the availability of free treatment at the onboard Medical Center for any guest with symptoms. Dedicated isolation cabins will be available to enable isolation of any suspected cases and close contacts.
  5. Ongoing health monitoring will be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health status of every guest and crew member. During this initial phase of operations, as a further enhanced measure of protection and to avoid risks to the health of guests and their fellow cruisers guests will only go ashore as part of an organised MSC Cruises excursion. This means that MSC Cruises can protect their health whilst ashore with excursions that will be delivered with the same high standards of health and safety on board. We will ensure that transfers are properly sanitised and that there is adequate space. Tour guides and drivers will also undergo health screening and will wear appropriate PPE.
  6. A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with the national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.

From the moment a guest starts to plan and book to the moment they return home, MSC Cruises has assessed every touchpoint of their holiday to put in place the appropriate health and safety measures. Guests will be supported every step of the way with simple information, clear booking conditions, practical information and supporting technology to make the process smooth and seamless.
MSC Cruises has introduced a new MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan to provide guests with additional peace of mind for the summer cruises, for guests who are resident in Schengen countries. This will cover the guest if they become infected prior to their departure if they are not able to travel, during the cruise for medical expenses and after the cruise if the guest falls sick. In addition to this, guests should also choose their usual travel and health insurance cover.
A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes has been implemented to make the process more seamless and contactless with arrival timeslots to manage guest flow. The health and safety measures in the cruise terminal will meet the same high standards as those on board. Guests will undergo a COVID-19 swab test, a temperature check and an in-person check of the health questionnaire to ensure that a guest is healthy and eligible to cruise. If further checks are needed, these will be carried out by medical staff and if needed, and a further COVID-19 test could be carried out.
Ashore, guests will be able to enjoy the different destinations the ships visit, but this will be only as part of an organised MSC Cruises excursion that will be delivered with the same high standards of health and safety as on board. By taking this decision the Company is able to ensure that every aspect of the guest’s time ashore meets the appropriate standards of health and hygiene from ensuring that transfers are properly sanitised, that tour guides and drivers are wearing PPE, venues and sites to be visited are pre-screened through to ensuring there are reserved areas for MSC Cruises guests at attractions.
Guest-centric Technology Underpins the Health and Safety Measures
MSC Cruises’ health and safety measures are supported by industry-leading guest technology to facilitate a contactless experience, to provide guests with important and relevant information as and when they need it.
For guests on board both ships, the MSC for Me app will support and facilitate the new health and safety measures. The app can be used to book services as well as to manage their daily activities on board and source information.
Additionally, on board MSC Grandiosa every guest and crew member will be provided with a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which facilitates contactless transactions around the ship as well as providing contact and proximity tracing.
A new Information Centre, accessible by telephone, will allow guests to call Guest Services for information, rather than having to go to the desk in person.
A Rich and Enjoyable Onboard Experience
Guests will continue to enjoy the rich experiences that have been central to an MSC Cruises holiday including award-winning shows in the theatre, world-class dining, family activities, boutique shopping, engaging events and much more but with some changes and adaptations to ensure that their health and safety is protected.

  • Onboard activities and entertainment have been redesigned to enable smaller group sizes and guests should book in advance. A rich programme of activities will be available throughout the cruise including themed events, fun games, talent shows, fitness and dance and more.
  • Award winning children activities and family live game shows will be available each day. New spaces on board will be reserved for children and teenagers as the youth areas will operate at a reduced capacity. Parents on excursion can still leave children with the youth staff by making a reservation one day in advance. Lunch and dinner with the youth staff will still take place along with the most popular kids’ activities such as MasterChef At Sea Juniors, MSC Dance Crew, Cabin 12006 family game show & web series and the LEGO experience.
  • MSC Cruises will continue to offer a wide choice of live entertainment around the ship. As the capacity of the theatre will be reduced to ensure responsible social distancing, the entertainment schedule will be adapted so all our guests can still enjoy a great variety of award-winning shows.
  • Restaurants, bars and lounges, will allow for social distancing and all meals and drinks will be served to guests at their table. The buffet restaurant will offer a new service concept and a new guest flow to ensure social distancing. Instead of self-service, the guests will select what they want, and the food will be plated and handed to them to take back to their table to ensure the highest level of health and hygiene measures are followed. For a contactless experience, guests will be able to access restaurant and bar menus from their personal mobile device by scanning a QR code.

MSC Cruises’ blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group
MSC Cruises’ blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group brings together the following highly qualified and internationally respected experts in the fields of Medicine, Public Health, and/or related scientific disciplines:  

  • Professor Christakis Hadjichristodoulou, Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine as well as its Vice-President, School of Health Sciences, University of Thessaly, Greece;
  • Professor Stephan J. Harbarth, Hospital Epidemiologist, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Head of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and Faculty of Medicine;
  • Doctor Ian Norton, a Specialist Emergency Physician with post graduate qualifications in Surgery, International Health and Tropical Medicine, currently managing director of Respond Global, formerly the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Medical Team Initiative program until January 2020.

[1] Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland

Charles Robbie
Managing Director Cruising SA (Pty) Ltd

E&OE – Information was correct at the time of publishing.

22nd March 2020 - MSC announces change of ships

22nd  March 2020

MSC Cruises announces that the MSC Musica will now be replaced by the MSC Orchestra for the 2020-2021 cruise season.

The MSC Orchestra is to remain moored in Durban due to the lockdown level 5 and the travel industry closed.

20th March 2020 - The cruising industry closed by government due to covid-19

20th March 2020

On her arrival back in port from Mozambique, the MSC Orchestra was prevented from leaving port again as the lockdown level 5 came into effect.

All the remaining cruises were then cancelled.

15th February 2020 - Cruising SA became the first tour operator to implement screening.

15th February 2020

Cruising South Africa became the first tour operator in South Africa to introduce the screening and sanitizing procedures for our passengers. This even before the Department of Health!
Passengers were shocked to find our staff in Durban with masks, thermal temperature scanners and sanitizing wipes on their arrival at King Shaka Airport.
Having lived in South East Asia for the past 8 years, our managing director quickly decided to implement these procedures.

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