Scrap the 'red list' and allow all international travellers into SA, urges Western Cape

The Western Cape government says the "red list" of countries banned from entering SA makes no sense and needs to be scrapped.
The Western Cape government says the "red list" of countries banned from entering SA makes no sense and needs to be scrapped.
Image: 123RF / Martinkay78

The Western Cape government has expressed disappointment over the department of home affairs' revised “red list”, saying it is killing the province's key source markets for tourism.

This week, the department reviewed the list of high-risk countries that are restricted from entering SA under the country’s level 1 lockdown rules.

The list of countries was cut from 60 to 22. Countries that are deemed high-risk on the list include the US, Germany, India and Brazil.

According to department, the review of the list was done in such a way that “it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods”.

No changes were made in terms of travellers from the continent. They are still allowed to visit the country subject to Covid-19 protocols.

The current regulations allow business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors and people on an international mission in sports, arts, culture and science from high-risk countries to enter SA with a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, but not leisure travellers.

According to the Western Cape’s provincial minister of finance and economic opportunities, David Maynier, the “red list” makes no sense and needs to be scrapped.

“International markets are a key economic driver for the tourism sector in the Western Cape, and so the full reopening of our borders to leisure travellers, with stringent health protocols in place ahead of the summer season is absolutely critical to the sector’s immediate recovery, medium-term stability and long-term survival,” said Maynier.

He said the province welcomed the increased capacity that has been allocated to process business traveller applications.

Maynier said the decision came after he wrote to the minister of home affairs Aaron Motsoaledi on this matter last week after several complaints.

“I am also pleased that my suggestion of a 24-hour turnaround for applications is being implemented and I now urge the department to finalise the remaining backlog of 1,588 applications as soon as possible,” he said.

“We also welcome the concession to allow regular visitors who are coming to stay for a three-month period or more, subject to Covid-19 protocols.”

Maynier believes the “red list” needs to be scrapped and all visitors should be allowed entry into SA subject to presenting a negative PCR test conducted at least 72 hours before departure, together with screening protocols.

“There is simply no greater risk for transmission of the Covid-19 virus based on the purpose of travel, yet the negative impact of continuing to limit the entry of leisure travellers to SA, especially from our key source markets, is severe and extreme.

“This alternative approach to international travel will ensure we reopen the economy safely to prevent job losses in the province and SA during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

DA MP Manny de Freitas echoed Maynier's concerns by saying the system used to identify high-risk countries was not only illogical but has also been shown to be having a devastating effect on the tourism industry, jobs and the economy.

De Freitas said according to information tourism experts, the uncertain and inexplicable “red list” will completely bankrupt the tourism sector in SA within a few weeks.

“The DA is of the view that the 'red list' should be replaced with a simpler and more economically beneficial system. Such a system should be for all people to be permitted to enter through our borders on condition that they produce a recent negative PCR test which would have been conducted at the country of origin,” he said.

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