Botswana removes travel restrictions for local holidaymakers

Botswana will allow local holidaymakers to travel within zones during the coming Independence Day holiday in an effort to boost local tourism that has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said on Saturday.

Travelers will be required to produce their booking confirmations at zonal checkpoints with law enforcement authorities, according to Kereng Masupu, the coordinator of the Presidential Task Force for COVID-19 in Botswana.

The move came a day after an announcement was made Friday that those who travel within the country will need to apply for permits, and all current active permits have been revoked and those who require permits can re-apply online.

Malaki Tshipayagae, director of Health Services, said the decision was prompted by the rising number of cases and a potential surge in light of the upcoming holiday.

However, the Friday announcement met with widespread criticism from locals who had already made bookings to travel in the coming week.

Botswana introduced travel zones in early March to restrict the movement of people as the virus started spreading. Since then, travelers must apply for a permit to move between zones.

Botswana’s COVID-19 situation has deteriorated in recent weeks with a spike in the number of confirmed cases.

As of September 20, the country had recorded a total of 2,921 cases with 16 related deaths.