COVID-19 Travel Update

At Thompsons Travel, the health and wellbeing of our employees, travellers & clients is our main concern. In light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we understand the uncertainty you may be facing about your existing or future travel plans and would like to reassure you that we are committed to assisting all travellers and monitoring the situation as it unfolds.

Frequently asked questions:

Your peace of mind is our priority, which is why your dedicated consultants, Account Manager and hands-on Management team is available to assist you with any queries you may have during this uncertain time.   

  • Johannesburg: 011 770-7500
  • Cape Town Emergency: 021 408-9555
  • Durban: 031 275-3733

Alternatively, should you have any after-hours emergencies you can call us on the following numbers, or email us: 

  • Johannesburg: 082 809-1733 /
  • Cape Town: 078 800-8152 /
  • Durban: 083 633-6989 /

Thompsons for Travel Emergency: 083 633-6989 /

What reasons am I permitted to travel domestically and what forms / documents are required?

When you travel under the adjusted Level 1, please ensure that you have the relevant and valid ID documents (currently the health declaration document is not needed for domestic travel under adjusted Level 1) and that you have done your online check-in prior to departure and have a digital boarding pass to scan.

Other than carrying the correct documentation, you will have to pass a temperature screening (passengers who have a 37.2 degree temperature or higher will not be permitted entrance) to enter the airport and wear your face mask at all times. New rules apply to checked luggage, physical distancing of 1,5m; allow time for security checks and safety measures onboard your flight. We've listed everything you need to know, here. Please do not travel if you suspect you are ill or have flu-like symptoms.

What are the latest Alert Updates?

Great news for SA as South Africa moved from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 1 with immediate effect. President Cyril Ramaphosa, said on the 1st March 2021, that the country has now clearly emerged from the second wave, with fewer than 10,000 new infections in the past week, compared to 40,000 in the last week of January and 90,000 in the last week of December.

Curfew, across the country, is now from midnight to 04h00. Apart from permitted workers, those attending a security or medical emergency, and those who are traveling to or from an airport, no person may be outside their place of residence during this time.  Being outside your home during curfew could land you a six-month prison sentence, and/or a fine. Travellers will need to abide by the new nationwide curfew times, unless they have an authorized special permit or attending a security/ medical emergency.  

  • Closing time for Cinemas, theatres, casinos, museums, galleries and archives, public swimming pools, beaches and public parks, game parks, botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos, gyms and fitness centres, restaurants, venues hosting auctions and sport and venues hosting faith- based. religious, social, political and cultural gatherings is 23h00. 
  • However, the new Level 1 rules do not change anything in terms of borders. The 33 land borders that are closed will stay closed, while the twenty open borders will remain open.
  • The five airports that are permitted to allow international travel remain OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, Kruger Mpumalanga and Lanseria airports.  The Lanseria airport north of Johannesburg, and the Kruger Mpumalanga airport, have joined those allowed to accept passenger flights from abroad.  Long-haul flight departures and landings are permitted during the hours of curfew.  
  • All international travellers arriving at the airports must provide a valid certificate of a negative COVID –19 test, recognised by the World Health Organisation, which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel. 
  • In the event of the traveller's failure to submit a certificate as proof of a negative COVID -19 test, the traveller will be required to do an antigen test on arrival at his or her own cost and in the event of a traveller testing positive for COVID -19, he or she will be required to isolate him or herself at his or her own cost for a period of 10 days.
  • The Level 1 regulations made every individual legally responsible for wearing a mask in public, and this requirement remains unchanged. A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence and is at the risk of being arrested and prosecuted. On conviction, they will be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.
  • Travel on passenger ships for international leisure purposes, excluding small crafts, are still not allowed.

What's the update on gatherings?

Under Level 1, gatherings are permitted guided under strict COVID-19 regulations and protocols:

  • Indoor gatherings may not exceed 50% of the venue capacity, up to a maximum of 100 people
  • Outdoor gatherings may not exceed 50% of the venue capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people  
  • Attendance at funerals is limited to a maximum number of 100 people for indoor gatherings and 250 people for outdoor gatherings. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.

Every person, when attending a gathering and in order to limit exposure to COVID-19 must:

  • wear a face mask
  • adhere to all health protocols
  • maintain a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other; and
  • adhere to any other health protocols and social distancing measures as provided for in the directions 

The recent changes to Alert Level 1, signed by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and broadcasted by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, regulate the in-flight operations of all domestic airlines which are subjected to the following rules:

  • The only consumable offered by on-board catering is limited to bottled water (no food, snacks, or other beverages may be served).
  • Passengers are not allowed to eat while on board a domestic flight (even if they bring their own food onboard).
  • Complimentary in-flight magazines may not be shared among passengers and must be disposed of after each flight

Should passengers who have arrived or depart for an international flight from South Africa and are traveling within the curfew period, between midnight and 04h00, would need “to present evidence of a flight ticket when stopped by law enforcement officers during curfew hours”.

Furthermore, alcohol restrictions have been eased.

All terminal buildings have also been re-opned, so you can meet someone inside, or help them with their luggage - or perhaps even have a coffee. International Passenger charters are now allowed for secondary airports.

Can I travel internationally?

SA extends all visas again:
Foreigners who have been stuck in South Africa due to the lockdown restrictions first implemented in March 2020 will benefit from yet another visa extension.  Adjustments to Alert Level 3 regulations, gazetted on Monday, 11th January 2021, have granted a further three-month grace period to foreigner’s holding expired visas.  This extension, the third of its kind granted since international travel restrictions were initially introduced to limit imported Covid-19 infections, will keep expired visas valid until March 31, 2021. The previous extension was due to lapse at the end of January.   In addition to including visas which expired since March 2020, the extension also applies to any foreigner who has travelled to South Africa in the last ten months and is still unable to return to their country of origin before April.  The reprieve does not, however, permit foreigners to deviate from their visa’s terms and conditions. For example, those without a general work visa are still forbidden from entering into any employment agreement on South African soil.

The following airports will be open for international travel: OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town International Airport.

  • Travellers will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result, not older than 72 hours from departure time.
  • Should you not have this test before departure there will be a mandatory quarantine of 10 days at the travellers expense.
  • All travellers need to complete an Exit Screening Health Questionnaire or Entry Screening Questionnaire
  • Travellers will be required to wear a mask at all times within the airport or port of entry, as well as download the COVID-19 Alert SA Mobile App, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
  • It is recommended that travellers purchase international insurance before boarding their flight to South Africa.

Transit travellers through South Africa by air will be allowed to connect to their destinations, subject to them complying with applicable health protocols. It is important to note that this does not change the entry requirements for international travellers visiting South Africa as outlined above.

Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech on the 11th January, please note that 20 land borders are closed and will include the six busiest border posts which are Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein, however airports remain operational.  Cross-border travel will be allowed for people to enter or depart the country through land borders only in limited circumstances, such as for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods, emergency medical attention, return of South Africans and residents, departure of foreign nationals, diplomats and daily commuters from neighbouring countries attending school in South Africa.  These measures will be in place until the 15th February 2021.

ORT testing info on mobile units & pricing

South Africa COVID-19 testing opens at OR Tambo International Airport:
Travellers departing South Africa from OR Tambo can get COVID-19 PCR-tested and collect their certificate at the airport prior to departure.  National Health Laboratory Service is operating three mobile COVID-19 Test Units in clearly identifiable vans located opposite the InterContinental Hotel, in front of the Police Station, on the lower level of the airport complex. The service is available 24/7 according to Port Health Services, at a cost of R600 (cash, cheque cards and credit cards are accepted, except American Express). Children under five years do not require a test.

Travellers are advised to be aware that there is a backlog in testing at OR Tambo International Airport.  As such, the officially communicated turnaround time for results of 4-6 hours is in fact actually between 24 and 48 hours.  This is due to the recent spike in infections and the fact that the general public are now also using these facilities.  The traveller is advised by SMS that the test result and certificate are ready for collection. After testing, travellers can wait for the SMS at the airport or nearby, collect the certificate, and proceed to fly, or the test may be done a day or two prior to departure if preferred, and the certificate collected on the day of departure.

Inbound travellers to South Africa, including South Africans, must hold a negative PCR test certificate taken within 72 hours of their departure time. This certificate is valid for the duration of the traveller’s inbound journey and takes into consideration long stopovers at transit points, but the test validity has a maximum of 14 days, and is for a single entry only.  A new test is required every time a traveller departs for South Africa

Use our Travel Restrictions and Visa Requirements Online Tool to search for the latest travel and health restrictions by destination, plus stay up-to-date with quarantine announcements.


For up-to-date travel regulations around the world, please consult the IATA Timatic Covid-19 Travel Regulations Map as well as Flatten the Curve.

Will travel insurance cover any cancellation costs related to the coronavirus?  

Please refer to the following updates from these travel insurance providers: 

Should you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

For the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19 virus, go to:  

For the latest information about travel restrictions for South Africans, please visit:  

For the South African COVID-19 Resource Portal, please visit: