South Africa will open its borders to all international travelers, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Wednesday, even as the number of new coronavirus cases rises in some parts of the country, leaving some officials concerned that a rollback on travel restrictions could invite a second wave.
“We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative Covid-19 certificate,” said Mr. Ramaphosa during an address to the country. He did not say when the new rules would replace a current, lengthy no-fly list that bans tourists from dozens of European countries and the United States.
The announcement came ahead of what would normally be the beginning of peak tourist season, when colder weather in the northern hemisphere starts luring up to 10 million foreigners to the country’s pristine beaches and game safaris.
South Africa has recorded more than 740,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 20,000 deaths since the spring, according to a New York Times database. Cases have dropped from a high of 12,000 new daily infections in July to fewer than 2,000 a day for the past three months.
Still, localized spikes in cases have worried officials for several weeks, including in the Eastern Cape province and in Cape Town, a major tourist destination.
The government also declared five days of mourning for victims of the pandemic and for women and children who are victims of violence. South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violence against women, which Mr. Ramaphosa called a “second pandemic.”
He said the national flag would fly at half-staff, and urged all citizens to wear black armbands on Nov. 25.
In other news from around the globe:
Athletes traveling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics next summer will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine requirement, organizers said Thursday, though they must test negative before and in some cases after they arrive. Rules have not yet been decided for spectators at the Games, which were postponed for a year because of the pandemic.
All kindergartens and day care centers in Hong Kong will close for two weeks as a precaution, health officials said on Thursday, citing a cluster of more than 100 upper respiratory tract infections. So far, no students or teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus, but some have symptoms that are associated with it. Day care centers and kindergartens reopened in late September after spending most of the year operating remotely.