South Africa allows phased reopening of tourism amid COVID-19

South African Defense Forces patrol downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay).
A mine worker is shown his temperature, measured ahead of his shift, during a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at a mine of Sibanye-Stillwater company in Carletonville, South Africa, May 19, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The South African government on Saturday announced a phased reopening of tourism, further easing COVID-19 restrictions starting from June 1.

“Based on the COVID-19 epidemic expected trajectory, the first phase of the recovery for the sector will be driven by domestic tourism, followed by regional tourism and international tourism next year,” Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said.

On May 24, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the lockdown for the whole country will be lowered from level four to level three effective from June 1, allowing more industries to resume operations and millions of people to return to work, accompanied by the reopening of schools.

Although South Africa will be gradually reopening up in the coming months, depending on how the virus is spreading, the tourism sector is expected to fully recover in the end of this year, said Kubayi-Ngubane.

The past two months of lockdown have been difficult for the tourism sector, she said.

“We continued to see many businesses in the sector fighting for survival and our projections showed that almost 600,000 jobs were at risk if the sector doesn’t come into operation by September 2020,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

“As we open up the sector, we are therefore confident that measures have been put in place to protect our employees, suppliers, tourists and all those who are involved with the sector,” the minister said.