South Africa Ends All COVID-19 Restrictions

South Africa on Wednesday announced it has ended all COVID-19 restrictions, its cabinet concluding that they had served their purpose.  

The revision of the COVID-19 management regulations is a necessary shot in the arm for the tourism sector, which has been battered by more than two years of the global pandemic and related restrictions. The latest revisions include the removal of the mask-wearing mandate indoors and limits on gatherings and border checks for COVID-19, as well as the need to be vaccinated to enter South Africa.  

Abolishing the mask-wearing mandate and eliminating all restrictions on gatherings and port of entry vaccination requirements is a step in the right direction and will significantly benefit the entire tourism sector value chain, said South African Tourism. “As custodians of tourism, we believe that the end of the restrictions is the tonic the sector needs to accelerate the rebound to pre-pandemic tourist arrival numbers and profitability levels,” the group said in a press statement.  

These revisions mean that those in the country can now open more experiences and activities to visitors from various parts of the world. It also means that the strain placed on the business events, live social events and exhibitions in the past two years will finally be removed. The return of delegates and exhibitors from across the globe to attend two signature trade shows earlier this year—Meetings Africa and Africa’s Travel Indaba—proves that travelers and business event delegates want to come to South Africa.   

This move should allow for the sector’s recovery measures after 26 months of lackluster performance due to the pandemic and resultant restrictions. South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan identifies tourism as a catalyst for the economy’s recovery and, accordingly, tourism is one of the primary interventions for rebooting the country’s economy as per the economic recovery plans.  Two years before the pandemic, travel and tourism contributed 1.5 million jobs and 425.8 billion ran (roughly $26.6 billion) to the economy, representing 8.6 percent of all economic activity in the country.  

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