Lockdown Level 1: Western Cape awaits new travel regulations ahead of tourist season

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The Western Cape awaits international tourism regulations.
The Western Cape awaits international tourism regulations.
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  • The Western Cape government is eagerly awaiting regulations on which countries will be allowed to fly to South Africa. 
  • This is to get its lucrative tourism market going again as the summer season approaches. 
  • In the meantime, cargo travel is picking up in time for Black Friday and Christmas sales.

The Western Cape government is eagerly waiting for the regulations on international travel to be announced so that it can find out which countries will be able to fly to South Africa during Level 1.

Level 1 starts at midnight on Sunday, and international flights would resume from three major airports from October 1 after a massive global flight shut down to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

READ | SA's borders open on 1 October - here's what you need to know

Plans to get the 31 non-stop flights back on track were underway; vigilance and monitoring plans were ready in case there was a second wave; and all that was left was to hear which countries South Africa would receive flights from.

Visitors from the UK, US and Germany were the most predominant among international travellers to the province.

The province was first to be hit by the pandemic, and was confident that the worst was over for now.

Vigilant

Premier Alan Winde said that people must continue being vigilant to show that the southern tip of Africa "can do it safely".

Some areas such as Oudtshoorn, Stanford and Wupperthal were still seeing sudden increases in cases at different times to the rest of the province and these were being monitored, but the overall picture was one of a vast reduction in cases.

The monitoring would include waste water sampling to test for possible prevalence in areas, in addition to immunity testing and broadening of testing again.

READ | Ramaphosa calls on citizens to use the Covid-19 app - here's how it works

Although it was not clear yet who would pay for the required Covid-19 test required for international flights, the dead of the province's health department, Dr Keith Cloete, anticipated that this would probably have to be paid for by the traveller, with travel clinics possibly becoming involved.

Cloete said there were also no more excess deaths in the Western Cape and now the focus was on preventing a second wave of the virus which many other countries had. 

Pattern

Cloete said that South Africa's pandemic pattern was very different to that of many first world countries. 

He said the numbers of people who contracted the virus started dropping even during the earlier lifting of lockdown restrictions.

He attributed this to vigilance and behaviour change.

However, the next two to three months would be key to see whether there was a second wave. 

Meanwhile, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, Economic Affairs MEC David Maynier and Paul van den Brink from Cape Town Air Access, were working at marketing the province, and re-establishing flights, particularly the 31 direct flights to Cape Town International Airport to help the hospitality and tourism sectors recover. 

Van den Brink said the decision to restart international flights on October too was a good move, since it coincided with the opening of the summer season for tourists, and the arrival of cargo for Black Friday and Christmas sales for businesses.

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