[Update] Coronavirus: What You Need to Know Before Travelling

[Updated: April 2020]

On 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africa about the coronavirus. The main point that he made was that the country would be placed into lockdown:

  • He reiterated that the most effective way to reduce infections is to change basic behaviours. Stay home, cancel get-togethers and avoid people to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Because of this, an enforced lockdown will take place from midnight on 26 March 2020 until 16 April 2020 (21 days).
  • You will not be allowed to leave your home except to buy food and medical supplies.
  • Only the following industries will be unaffected: health workers, emergency personnel, security services, production and distribution, essential banking services, power, laboratory services, and hygiene services.
  • The JSE will not be affected, trading will continue.
  • Malls and clothing stores will be closed.
  • The defence force will be deployed to help police enforce the lockdown.
  • A public health management programme will perform screenings. The initial focus will be on high density and high-risk areas.
  • Centralised treatment will be available for severe cases.
  • Decentralised treatment will be available for mild cases.
  • Residents arriving from high-risk countries will face a quarantine of 14 days.
  • International flights from Lanseria are suspended.
  • International travellers will be turned away.

On 15 March, the president addressed the country. Among the points he made, below are the ones relevant to travel:

  • A travel ban is in place on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China as from 18 March 2020.
  • Visas to visitors from those countries from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked
  • South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea.
  • The Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level.
  • Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.
  • South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
  • Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will be required to undergo high-intensity screening.
  • All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
  • There will be increased surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports
  • South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and airports, 35 of which are shut down.
  • The government strongly discourages all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus.

General safety tips

You can’t always assume someone has contracted coronavirus if they start coughing or sneezing suddenly. However, to be sure, there are ways you can protect yourself.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or a cough.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Stay away from markets selling live animals and avoid unprotected contact with animals.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked foods. Use different boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods.
  • Wearing facemasks are highly recommended, make sure to cover your mouth and nose and avoid touching the mask when it’s on.
  • Throw away single-use facemasks immediately after use and wash your hands immediately afterwards.

If you develop a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, take note of the following:

  • Seek medical attention immediately and share your previous travel history with your healthcare provider.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid spitting in public.
  • Avoid close contact with other people to prevent infection.
  • Do not travel if you start developing the symptoms for the coronavirus.

Travel updates

Currently, the travel ban is in place, so there are no flights within South Africa and no travel is permitted outside the country.

The only travel currently taking place is repatriation flights. It is still not confirmed yet when the South African travel ban will be lifted once the lockdown ends.

What about visas and ports of entry?

Find out about the latest announcements regarding visas and ports of entry by visiting the IATA Travel Centre.

We will update this page as new information gets released.

Make sure to stay updated on your flight status.

For local information, see the Health Department’s page on the coronavirus.

Please visit our dedicated Travel Safe page for the latest airline updates and FAQs.

If you have a booking with Travelstart and need assistance, please reach out to us via our chat service found on our homepage or send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter. We are here to help.

Also Read: Lockdown Lessons: Airlines & Refunds

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Our Readers Comments

  1. Good day

    I need to travel to Durban this week and it’s still lockdown, the trip will be one day, in and out back to Joburg. Is it possible to do this? What modes of transport are available for me to use?

    • Hi Owen,

      Thanks for reaching out. Due to the national lockdown there are no modes of transport being offered.

      You will need to wait till lockdown has been lifted to see what transport is being offered.

  2. I have a Safari in South Africa scheduled for early June. Does it appear We will be able to fly from Montana United States to Port Elizabeth at that time considering the corona virus?

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      At this stage all airlines are not able to give a fixed date when their flights will resume as South Africa is still in lockdown and they do not know if it will be extended. All airlines are working very hard to be ready to hit the ground running when the recovery eventually comes.

      We would suggest you contact the airline you purchased your ticket through. They should be able to provide you with the most up to date information on their flight schedules.

  3. Hello,

    We were supposed to travel on the 10/04 and 18/04 with South Africa Airways (tickets booked on your website). Do you know how to proceed to get a voucher and postpone our flight to a later date?

    Thanks
    Mickaël

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’ve done a search using your e-mail address and not able to locate a booking. I’m afraid SAA is not offering their passengers vouchers. You can however suspend your ticket and travel at a later date. Please send us a private message on Facebook – Travelstart South Africa with your Travelstart reference number so we can assist with your booking.

  4. FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!!
    I am sending mail after mail with NO feedback.
    I am so frustrated.
    Can somebody please contact or email me.

    • Hi Pieter,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’ve done a search using your e-mail address and located your booking. I see our operations team have received your e-mail via our contact form. We do apologies for the struggle in trying to reach us and delay in response to your e-mails. We are currently experiencing high volumes of e-mail queries due to COVID-19. Kindly be advised that we are prioritizing bookings by date of departure as there are many passengers affected. However our team will respond to your e-mail as soon within the next 24 hours. You can respond to refunds@travelstart.com

  5. If all flights was cancelled, why can’t a full refund on cancelled flights within the Lockdown be granted? 😡

    • Hi Belinda,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      This is a very unfortunate situation. I’m afraid airlines are not offering full refunds however they are offering other options, either Travel Vouchers like Fly Safair or Mango or one is able to suspend to a later date, depending on what airline.

      The airlines have tried to offer their passengers the best options where possible.

  6. With the national Lockdown taking effect from 26 March midnight and my flight departure 27 March and return on 30 March, what is the result in flights cancelled?

    • Hi Belinda,

      Thanks for reaching out. Airlines are taking the required measures needed during national lockdown.

      Travelstart have been contacting their customers giving options one what each airline is offering their passengers.

      If you have booked with Travelstart you can reach our team on our online chat service found on our website or pop us a private message on Facebook with your Travelstart reference number. We have

  7. I send a mail on your Travelstart site Covid options to change tickets and I send a mail to booking@travelstart.com

    I’m still wating for a reply……

    I want to change my tickets ref ZA07958469 to Thusrday 12 November 2020 and Monday 16 November 2020

    • Hi Youlande,

      Thanks for reaching out and taking my call. Thanks for confirming you have received your pin and voucher from Fly Safair.

      When you are ready to re-book please contact Fly Safair to redeem your voucher.

      Stay safe.

  8. Obviously my question what will happen to my yet paid tickets to Germany with Emirates in April, who by the way have now cancelled all their flights to Germany, does not seem to be convenient. Instead, I receive an email from travelstart to cancel my flight, in order not to pay penalties.

    How can I cancel my flight that has been cancelled already by the airline.

    The experience with travelstart is really negative. Nobody picks up phones, nobody answers emails and this block does not give any answers.

    I will pass this entire issue to my lawyer.

    • Hi Thomas

      Thank you for reaching out to us. My apologies that you have not received the best service from us and for the delay in response to your e-mail. We are currently experiencing high queries due to COVID-19.

      I’ve called and left a message. I see you have requested a cancellation for your booking. I will follow up with our refunds team who will be in touch within 24 hours. Please check your inbox for an e-mail from refunds@travelstart.com

      If you have any other questions you welcome to reach out to us via our online chat service and chat to one of our agents. You can do so by going onto our website: http://www.travelstart.com and click the blue circle with white square. Or you welcome to pop us a private message on Facebook or Twitter and one of our agents will be happy to assist.

  9. Hi ,
    I came as a visitor here in Johannesburg before the virus spread. Will I have any problem to go back to my country (Greece) at 15 of May ? Is there any possibility my trip will be cancelled ?

    • Hi Nick,

      We ask you contact the airline you are travelling on. They will need to check your booking and advise if they will be operating over that time.

  10. Hi
    I booked flights for June, will it be possible to postpone them for later.
    Inv 13031214/ref Za 07925057

    Thanks
    Heinrich Tipps

    • Hi Frederick,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      For any date change quotes please e-mail bookings@travelstart.com with your Travelstart reference number and new dates of travel.

      One of our agents will respond.

  11. May I still fly on mango with a booked flight from king chaka to or tambo for my sons wedding 8 May

    • Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for reaching out. Mango should start flying from the 20th April 2020 subject to the National Lockdown being lifted.

      If you have booked direct with the airline you will need to contact them direct for further information.

      If you have booked with Travelstart please send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter or via our online chat service found on our home page, and one of our agents will respond and assist with any other booking queries you might have.

  12. Good day

    I booked on Emirates to travel on the 24th April 2020 to Geneva via Dubai. Due to the Corona pandemia, I am likely not to travel as there would be a travel restriction. Can you advice me what my options are in terms of cancellation and / or postponement of my flight schedule?

    My booking ref. nr. is ZA07421900

    • Hi Corrie,

      Thanks you for taking my call earlier. Please check your inbox I have sent your e-mail with options and our refunds team will be in touch with a quote.

      In the meantime I have suspended your flights for booking ZA07421900

      If you have any other questions please feel free to reach out to on Facebook or Twitter by sending us a private message or via our online chat service which can be found on our homepage.

      Stay safe.

  13. Hello I’m parth here from Johannesburg I actually want to know can I travel India from Johannesburg on 13 april. I’m citizen of India I got Indian passport

    • Hi Parth,

      Thanks for reaching out. Due to the national lockdown no flights are operating during the time you wish to travel. So I’m afraid this is not possible.

  14. As the government discourages non-essential domestic travel, we have decided to cancel our flight of the 4th April 2020 to Cape Town, and the return flight on the 18th April 2020. Kindly advise whether we are entitled to a refund of the air fare.

    • Hi Esme,

      Every airline has a different cancellation policy. If you have booked with Travelstart please contact us via our online chat service which can be found on our home page (the blue circle with the white square in the middle) Or send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter with your Travelstart reference number and query and one of our agents will respond.

  15. Hi, Is it safe to travel to London and Beldium. Expected travel date is 12 June 2020. What will the protocol be when we depart and when we return? Will it be necessary to cancel/postpone our flights? If so what are the implications of this? Thanks

    • Hi Edith,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      If you have booked with Travelstart please contact us via our chat service which can be found on our homepage or pop us a private message via Facebook or Twitter. We will need your Travelstart reference number this way we can access your booking and advise if that airline is currently operating over that time.

  16. I have tried to call travelstart and sent emails, but no answers. This is really disappointing. I bought 5 tickets to go with Emirates to Germany in April. What will happen to the tickets? Emirates says that they are not responsible, as the ticket was booked via a travel agent.
    So could you please let me know if I can change the ticket or get a refund due to the travel ban?
    Many greetings

    • Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry for the struggle in trying to reach us.

      If you still have an ongoing query and need assistance you welcome to get in touch with one of our agents via our online chat service which can be found on our website (the blue circle with the white square in the middle) Or send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter with your Travelstart reference number and query and one of our agents will respond.

  17. Good morning. I’m due to fly to Vic Falls this weekend , directly to Livingston Airport.
    Have there been any reports about Covid 19 being prevalent there. Will I be required to self isolate on my return?

  18. I am trying to get hold of an agent to assist changing my flight details – yet I cannot get through

    • Hi Jack,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry for the struggle in trying to reach us.

      If you still have an ongoing query and need assistance you welcome to get in touch with one of our agents via our online chat service which can be found on our website (the blue circle with the white square in the middle) Or send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter and one of our agents will respond.

  19. as the president stated – groups of 100 people are not allowed. Therefore will there be a fee to change ticket dates?

    • Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for reaching out. Each airline has different policies but there would be a charge for difference in airfare and airport taxes.

      If you have booked with Travelstart please contact us via our online chat service or send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter with your Travelstart reference number. This way we can access your booking see the airline you travelling with and provide you with the most up to date information. If you have booked with the airline, you would need to contact them direct. They will have access to your booking and be able to assist.

  20. Hey is it safe to travel to Mauritius in May early?from South Africa

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      One is not able to say as they have extended their lockdown. We recommend you check closer to the time of travel to see if they have lifted the travel ban and opened their boarders.

  21. HI, my aunt is in Monaco, has dual British/SA status – wants to come home to South Africa, but SA passport is expired – how to fix this, please?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out. She would need to go to the nearest South African Embassy. They will advise on the correct procedures to follow and what documents are required.

  22. Good Day,
    I’m currently working in Vancouver Canada and have to travel to Johannesburg for my daughters wedding towards end of April. I am a dual citizen SA and Canadian. Through which countries can I transit to get there.
    Further, is my partner, a Canadian citizens allowed to also travel with me with no restrictions?
    Regards
    Willem Smit

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Please contact the Embassy of the countries you are thinking of transiting through and they will advise accordingly.

  23. Hi. We booked through travelstart Khulula from Gauteng to Durban on 25/03/2020. Noe President said non-essential domestic travel is prohibited. Can we postpone our trip to September or will be issued a refund. Please help, so disappointed.

  24. I booked tickets through travelstart, flying Safair from George to Johannesburg and then back again. This was for my parents to spend Eater with us. As per the President, we should avoid flying, locally and internationally, what is my best option with these tickets, can i get a refund or a voucher to use at a later stage? How will all this work? Do I contact the airline direct? Please advise.

    • Hi Bronwyn,

      Thanks for reaching out. Flysafair is offering Travel bank vouchers. Vouchers will be valid for 6 months from the date of issue and will be valid for redemption for 6 months – that is to say that vouchers can be used to purchase any flights, as long as they are used within six months of issue. You must cancel your flights at least 2 hours prior to your original departure time otherwise your unused ticket will be non-refundable. To redeem your voucher, please go onto http://www.flysafair.co.za/corona

      Click Manage My Booking. Fill in your Fly Safair reference number and passengers surname. And then cancel the booking to redeem your voucher. Fly Safair will send you your voucher. When you are ready to re-book you will need to re-book directly with Fly Safair.

  25. I would like to know if its safer to travel from OR Tambo international air port to King shaka ,i have a trip planed for the 24/04 -27/04 & I’m travelling with kids,

    I would like to know if i can change the date for later this year around 24 September – 27/09.

    • Hi Suzan,

      Thank you for taking my call earlier. I have sent both of your bookings through to our amendments team who will be in touch to assist with your change request.

  26. Hi, with the new developments in recent weeks, what is your policy with regards to cancellation or amendments to flights already booked to countries that are high risk and international flights booked in general?

    • Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for reaching out. If the airline has cancelled your flights and you are inquiring about a refund please e-mail refunds@travelstart.com with your Travelstart reference number and request. Our team will respond as soon as possible. Kindly be advised that we are prioritizing bookings by date of departure but you will receive a response to your e-mail.

  27. With the current world situation re coronavirus specially with Govt restrictions on travel changing by the minute can you get a credit or refund for a domestic flight PE/JHB on a BA/Commair flight – Conditions of Carriage refer to” Events out of your control” Thank you

    • Hi Joy,

      Thanks for reaching out. Each airline has a different policy. If you have booked with Travelstart you are welcome to e-mail refunds@travelstart.com with your Travelstart reference number and cancellation request and one of our agents will respond. Alternatively you can reach out to us via our online chat service or send us a private message on Facebook and we will pass your request onto refunds@travelstart.com

  28. With the new travel bans taking effect from the 18th of March, what will happen if our flights are cancelled or if we are barred entry into another country? I am booked to travel to Thailand at the end of April.

    • Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      If you have booked with Travelstart please contact us via our online Chat service or send us a private message on Facebook or Twitter. We will need to look at your booking and see what airline you are travelling on. Only then will we be able to advise your options / what that airline is offering.

  29. Hi

    I’m leaving for Vietnam in 2 weeks. Any news that I should know. Can i still enter even if I transit @ Singapore Airport.
    If Vietnam close flights from SA what would be my next step?

    Thx

  30. Good day
    I am travelling to the UK from Johannesburg on the 16th April (KLM) and would like to know what procedure I would need to follow in order to get a refund, if things get worse regarding the coronavirus

    • Hi Kim,

      Thanks for reaching out. If you have booked with KLM you would need to contact the direct. If you have booked with Travelstart you are welcome to e-mail refunds@travelstart.com with your Travelstart reference number and cancellation request and one of our agents will respond. Alternatively you can reach out to us via our online chat service or send us a private message on Facebook and we will pass your request onto refunds@travelstart.com

  31. Is it safe to visit Egypt now?

    • Hi Carolina,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Travellers should not be at risk when travelling to Egypt. However it is up to the discretion of the passengers should they wish to travel or not.

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