South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula
South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

South Africa will keep its travel ban, both domestically and internationally, despite the easing of restrictions, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday.

While the ban on both domestic and international passenger flights remains in place, South Africa will continue to allow repatriation flights either bringing back South Africans stranded in foreign countries or transporting foreign nationals to their home countries, Mbalula said in a statement.

In respect of maritime transport, the ban on passenger vessels and cruise liners remains in place, and only vessels bringing in cargo are allowed to call on South African ports, he said.

“However, we will allow the movement of cargo from our sea ports to either warehouses or final destinations as provided for in the current rules,” said the minister.

With the gradual resumption of economic activity in certain sectors and permitted movement of freight, the country will allow the full resumption of freight rail, according to Mbalula.

Commuter rail will resume operations gradually on an incremental basis, based on the detailed plans submitted by the passenger rail operators, he said.

Limited services with strict measures to ensure social distancing and other mitigation measures, will be introduced, said Mbalula.

South Africa entered level four restrictions on Friday, down from level five. Under level four restrictions, about 1.5 million people can move between workplaces and homes as certain businesses are permitted to resume operations.

“The hard choices we have to make as a nation are premised on the centrality of the right to life and our singular commitment to uphold this right, above all else,” Mbalula said.

The measures that have been put in place, and continue to revise from time to time, are meant to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19 through various transport modes, he added.

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