In a statement published this week, the department said that the latest advisories take into account logistical factors, including in-country testing availability and current travel restrictions for US citizens.
“This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide,” it said.
“This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s travel advisory system to rely more on Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s existing epidemiological assessments,” it said.
In a notice published on Tuesday (20 April) the US warned that citizens should not travel to South Africa due to Covid-19, as the country has received a level 4 warning.
“The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for South Africa due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country,” it said.
Other issues such as violent crime, armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles were also raised as points of concern in the notice.
Restrictions on travel
A mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 18 April, South Africa has 84 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place.
These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 68 moderate restrictions in place on South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.
Just two countries have ‘low-risk restrictions’ meaning that travellers likely won’t have to face enforced quarantine periods. This includes the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
A number of countries have also indicated that travellers from South Africa will be barred from entering – a sign that the country could be facing reputational damage as a result of the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19, which has been referred to as the “South African variant” abroad.
Red countries are those with major restrictions on South Africa, with yellow countries denoting moderate restrictions.
There are currently no restrictions on domestic travel within South Africa.