As lockdown is slowly lifting and travel restrictions begin to ease, we’re shifting gears and looking to embrace a world in which new rigorous hygiene and safety protocols will be the norm. Here’s everything you need to know about travelling in South Africa and abroad during lockdown Level 3:
Update 12 June 2020: Limited international travel announced for Level 3
Government published new regulations on Wednesday allowing South Africans to travel overseas, under strict circumstances, including evacuation and repatriation, travelling to your place of employment, study or residence outside of South Africa.
Non-essential travel is strongly discouraged, specifically to high risk countries. These include Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, US and the UK.
Prospective travellers must get travel permission from the Department of Home Affairs. To get this, you must provide the DHA with the following documentation (at least five working days ahead of the intended date of travel):
- A copy of your valid South African passport
- A letter confirming that you have a valid visa or permit, issued by the country where you are heading
- If you are transiting through another country, proof of permission to transit
- Proof of the ticket, and the intended date of departure
Update 5 June 2020: Limited domestic air travel permitted for Level 3
Limited domestic travel is allowed for business travellers during Level 3. Airlink has announced it will launch a limited scheduled air service from Monday 8th June, with flights operating between Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Mango and FlySafair have announced that flight operations will start on the 15th June 2020.
As per South Africa’s Covid-19 Level 3 restrictions, domestic flights may resume in three phases.
- Phase 1, which came into effect 1st June 2020, allows flights between OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport. Lanseria International Airport to arrange Port Health capacity to be certified by government before any flights may operate.
- Phase 2 will see Kruger Mpumalanga International, Polokwane International and Bram Fischer airports open to travel once the system has been stress-tested and proven.
- Phase 3 will allow services to Kimberley, Upington, East London, Umtata and Port Elizabeth airports.
No dates have been set for Phases 2 and 3.
You may only fly for business purposes and require a permit (regulation 16 (2)(b) and 28(4) declaring that your travel is for business reasons) along with a letter on a company letterhead and signed by a manager.
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Strict safety protocols at airports
Strict safety protocols must be adhered to during travel – at the airport and onboard your flight. Expect no-touch contact, mobile boarding passes and temperature checks to become the norm.
Here’s what to expect at the airport:
- Upon arriving at the airport, passengers must use drop-and-go facilities or public transport/transfers as only passengers will be allowed into the terminal.
- Limited parkade options will be available and will be signposted at each terminal.
- Meet & greets will not be allowed in the terminal building.
- Baggage wrapping is now compulsory for check-in luggage for hygiene reasons.
- A number of access points have been closed at each airport. Please visit the Airports Company website for details on which access points and terminal entrance points should be used.
- Place all loose items into your hand luggage including items that contain metal such as belts.
- If you trigger the metal detector, no pat downs will take place and you will be sent back to re-divest all loose items which may include shoes.
- You will be required to scan your own boarding cards.
- For the flights that require passengers to transfer via busses from the boarding gate to the aircraft or aircraft to the arrival’s terminal, these will operate at only 70% capacity and will be cleaned and disinfected after every trip.
Travel tips for business travellers
There are a few things you can do to be a responsible traveller during this time.
- Firstly, don’t fly if you are feeling ill as you will not only increase your chances of contracting the virus, but you may also put other people at risk.
- Check-in online and download your mobile boarding pass to limit the number of exchanges you make with others.
- Wear your face mask at all times – at the airport and while travelling.
- Wash your hands regularly. This is one of your best defences against the virus.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (keep a travel-sized bottle with you at all times).
- Maintain physical distance at the airport and onboard your flight.
- Plan for delays. Due to safety screenings and new check-in, security and boarding processes, it’s best to arrive at the airport well before your flight to avoid missed departures.
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Safety measures onboard
Operating airlines have announced several safety measures they are undertaking to protect passengers and crew, including:
- Screening all staff and passengers
- Compulsory wearing of masks throughout flights
- Self-scanning of documents
- No catering and no magazines to avoid contact
- Sterile aircraft cabins, re-sterilised between flights
- Reduced passenger movement during flights
- Staggered boarding procedures
- Aircrafts are equipped with High Efficient Particulate Air Filters (HEPA), like those used in hospital operating theatres, which are effective at blocking 99,97% of particulates. These filters help to continually sterilise the air in the cabins, which is renewed entirely every three minutes. You can find more information about HEPA here.
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What about social distancing on the flight?
Mango has said it will strategically seat passengers onboard to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices, with exceptions made for guests that are travelling together. Similarly, FlySafair has said it will fill window and aisle seats before allocating passengers to the middle seat. However, middle seats will not be blocked automatically. Passengers may opt to block the seat at an additional fee.
Need more information about business travel during Level 3 and beyond? Get in touch with us to start making business travel arrangements.