Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced this week that Cabinet agreed to ease some restrictions around leisure travel.
Residents can now book an overnight stay at an approved hotel or lodge but it has to be within the confines of the province one lives in.
“Let me emphasise, it is only intra-provincial travel, not inter-provincial travel. Individuals are still not permitted to travel between provinces for leisure purposes,” Kubayi-Ngubane said announcing the changes to lockdown level 3 restrictions.
Government has admitted that the reopening of borders for international travel is a priority but with no indication of when the country will move out of level 3 of lockdown or when provincial or national borders will reopen, it could still be months off.
The UN World Tourism Organisation suggests that international arrivals to Africa – which had been on an upward trajectory before the pandemic, and contribute to GDP and support millions of jobs – had contracted to 47%.
SA Tourism chief executive Sisa Ntshona said once the tourism sector was given the all-clear from government, they would focus on opening up in phases, “beginning with business travel domestically, followed domestic leisure, then intra-continental travel and finally, opening up international borders”.
In the meantime, day trips and some overnight stays are on, with the minister telling Radio 702 they were looking into the operation of accommodations like Airbnb.
The SA National Parks (SANParks) welcomed the coming relaxation of travel and leisure regulations. “We appreciate that after four months of confinement, the public is keen to engage with nature.
“However, we are obligated to ensure that the opening of our national parks for accommodation is done under the strictest health protocols to safeguard both our staff and guests,” said SANParks chief executive Fundisile Mketeni.
Mketeni said SANParks would make an announcement regarding the opening dates of accommodation in individual parks, but this would for now only be for residents of the province in which the particular park lies. None of the SANparks is in Gauteng.
The biggest changes include:
- The evening curfew has been moved to 22h00 to allow restaurants to run a dinner service and give staff time to return home. The sale of alcohol remains prohibited;
- Individuals will be allowed to leave their homes for leisure purposes – but only within their provinces;
- As per the above, accommodation facilities will be allowed to open for leisure purposes. However, no more than two people may share a room, with the exceptions of a ‘nuclear’ family (two parents and up to two children);
- Short-term rental sharing, such as Airbnb, remains closed;
- Inter-provincial travel for leisure is still prohibited;
- Tour operators will be allowed to provide guided tours in open-top vehicles.
On home sharing specifically, the minister said that there are concerns from the department’s health teams surrounding that sector.
She said the department has met with Airbnb, and there is a process being put in place, going through protocols submitted by Airbnb, which the department will then take to to the NCCC.
Visit www.gov.za/Coronavirus/travel for full updates on travel restrictions and amendments.