COVID-19 Travel Restrictions In South Africa: What International Visitors Need To Know


COVID-19 in South Africa has changed the way we operate in many ways, especially when it comes to travel. 

The new Level 1 adjusted restrictions have maintained the closure of the 33 land borders but the curfew has been changed to now be from 00h00 until 04h00. The most important rule to remember is that mask wearing is mandatory for every person in a public space, including retail stores and in public transport.

Not wearing a mask in South Africa during this lockdown period is a criminal offence, and you will be subject to an arrest and liable for a fine of R1.500 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both a fine and imprisonment.

What Are The Travel Limitations During Lockdown In South Africa?

During the current adjusted Level 1 lockdown, there is a curfew from 00h00 until 04h00, unless you are attending to an emergency or have a permit to travel during these times, or traveling to or from an airport. 

Interprovincial travel is allowed, which means you can explore all areas of our beautiful country with ease, but it is important to avoid spending too much time in the hotspots, as listed here

The closing times for restaurants are now 23h00 to allow for cleaning and staff departure. You may need to book activities ahead of time, and be sure to arrive and leave well ahead of the curfew times. 

In terms of border control, the new travel restrictions in South Africa mean that the 20 land ports of entry that are currently open will remain open.

What Are The International Travel Regulations?

If you are visiting from another country, there are some travel restrictions in South Africa you need to keep in mind.

According to international travel restrictions, the following airports will be open: O.R. Tambo, Cape Town International, King Shaka International Airport, Lanseria International Airport, and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. 

All of the commercial seaports will remain open and small crafts will be allowed entry into seaports, provided they remain in-line with all health and border law enforcement protocols.

Travelers entering South Africa must provide a negative COVID-19 test that has been taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival in the country. You will also be screened when you arrive.

If you show COVID-19 symptoms, you will be required to take a test, and if your test is positive, you will be quarantined for 10 days at a designated facility. You must also provide proof of accommodation should you need to self-quarantine upon arrival. 

When leaving South Africa, you will be screened. The test results will determine whether you can leave the country. If you have tested positive, you will need to self-isolate, either at your own private residence or a designated location. 

Long-term visas will luckily be reinstated, and South African visa application centres abroad will be opened.

What Are The New Lockdown Regulations?

The new Alert Level 1 lockdown adjusted regulations, which were put in place on Monday the 1st of March 2021, still allow you to enjoy our beautiful country if you abide by them. 

All faith-based, religious, social, political and cultural gatherings are once again permitted. The maximum number of people allowed at a gathering is 100 people indoors or 250 people outdoors. If the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with social distancing, no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used. 

The sale of alcohol is permitted according to normal licence provisions, however, no alcohol can be sold during the hours of curfew.

All beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks, and public swimming pools are open to the public, and you can enjoy the stunning scenery of South Africa by planning a self-drive safari through our numerous game parks and reserves

Botanical gardens and parks that have access control are still open to the public.You can enjoy a stroll around Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens or drive to Table Mountain National Park to enjoy the rugged scenery.

What Do The Different Levels Entail?

The different lockdown levels in South Africa can have an impact on how you can enjoy the country. Below we take a look at what they mean and how they differ.

Lockdown Level 1:

All travel from the African continent and from countries outside of Africa, with a low rate of infection and transmission, will resume. There is no domestic travel ban and interprovincial travel is permitted.The land borders will remain closed.

Travellers must provide a valid certificate for a negative test not older than 72 hours before the date of travel. If you cannot provide this certificate, you will need to quarantine at your own cost. 

All commercial seaports are open, but international travel is limited to the following airports:

  • OR Tambo International Airport
  • King Shaka International Airport
  • Cape Town International Airport
  • Lanseria International Airport
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport

All people must wear a mask at social gatherings and while out in public, and you must adhere to the other health protocols in place. Recreational gatherings are limited to 250 people or less for an indoor event, and 500 people or less for an outdoor gathering. 

Sports grounds and fields are limited to 100 people or less for an indoor gathering, and 250 people or less for an outdoor gathering, and museums, galleries, and libraries are open for up to 100 people or less, which means you are able to look at car hire in Cape Town to visit exciting historical sites. 

Restaurants, taverns, and bars are operational with a limit of a maximum of 100 people inside, and the onsite consumption and sale of alcohol is permitted. All hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, timeshare facilities, resorts, and guest houses are allowed to operate at full capacity of the available rooms, with guests maintaining a distance of one and a half metres while in common areas. 

The curfew is from 00h00 until 04h00.

Lockdown Level 2:

Interprovincial travel is permitted but international leisure travel is prohibited. Domestic air travel is allowed, but all passengers will be screened and tested. 

Beaches, museums, galleries, and public parks are open to the public, but the wearing of a mask while using these facilities and while out in public is mandatory. 

Theatres, concerts, and live performances are open to the public with a limit of 50 people while maintaining strict health protocols, which is great news for the outdoor music events that are popular in South Africa.

Sporting events are allowed without spectators, but this is still good news for sports fans as you can find videos of the events to watch and enjoy while on your South African adventure. 

For those who want to stay locally, all accommodation and tour operations are open but are subject to restrictions on the number of persons allowed, which is not more than 50% of the available floor space.

The curfew is from 22h00pm until 04h00am.

Lockdown Level 4:

Regarding travel restrictions in level 4, all borders remain closed, except for the transportation of cargo, goods, and fuel. No recreational visits are allowed during this time period and food from restaurants is only available for delivery. 

Public parks, sports grounds and fields, beaches and swimming pools, flea markets, night clubs,

casinos, hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, airbnbs, timeshare facilities, guest houses, private and public game reserves (except to house remaining tourists who are confined due to lockdown) are all closed to the public. 

All people must wear a mask while out in public, and adhere to the other health protocols.

The curfew is from 20h00 until 05h00.

Lockdown Level 5:

Only essential services are allowed to operate. Taxis, public transport, and private vehicles may only operate during certain hours of the day and with a limited passenger capacity. 

No interprovincial travel is allowed, except for transportation of goods or for funerals and work purposes. All people must wear a mask while out in public, and adhere to the other health protocols.

What Has This Meant For Car Hire?

For many car hire companies in South Africa, the hardest lockdown damaged their income significantly. This was because many non-essential companies were forced to stop operating, leading to bookings cancelled for both business and leisure. Many car hire companies had to waive cancellations fees, too.

The tourism industry suffered greatly, but thankfully, the new adjusted travel restrictions in level 3 have meant that people can once again explore South Africa and book a car hire in Cape Town, Johannesburg, or even Durban to experience the beauty of our country. 

Adhering to the rules of the lockdown in South Africa, whether you are local or visiting, is vital and will ensure your trip does not hit any obstacles.


Understanding the different lockdown levels in South Africa will help to make your journey easier and run smoothly. 

For when you are able to travel easily around South Africa, contact Star Car Rental today for our options.