A government gazette dated 3 December 2020 states that frequent travellers must provide to the port health official a completed traveller health questionnaire and a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test result, not older than 72 hours from the date of departure from the country of origin. This initial test result will remain valid for 14 days when presented on entry for subsequent travel.

A frequent traveller is defined in the gazette as a person who travels through the borders of South Africa on more than one occasion within a 14-day period, excluding airline crew and cross border freight operators.

It should be noted that there was a similar exception that appeared in a 4 October announcement from Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. This applied strictly to SADC business travellers. However, we received traveller reports that airlines would not board passengers without the 72 hour PCR test result.

Therefore, it is not clear if this will be applied at land and air borders and whether or not airlines will adopt this direction and board ‘frequent travellers’ with a OCR test result older than 72 hours (but less than 14 days).

In a ‘worst case’, at a land border crossing, if a traveller arrives with a PCR test that is older than 72 hours (but less than 14 days) and the border authorities do not accept this or if the traveller simply arrives without a PCR test at all—according to the new directions, the traveller will undergo a rapid antigen test and if clear, be allowed to enter and carry on travelling.

We are seeking further clarity and confirmation on all aspects of this issue.

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