COVID-19 testing is available 24/7 at ORTIA

Good news for travellers departing South Africa from OR Tambo is that they can get COVID-19 PCR-tested and collect their certificate at the airport prior to departure.

National Health Laboratory Service (www.nhls.ac.za/) 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.


Results are available in four to six hours and 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. Alternatively, 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. (Every time a traveller departs for South Africa, a new test is required prior to departure.)

On arrival in South Africa, the traveller must produce a printed copy of the test certificate. However, Port Health says travellers who receive their certificate on a mobile device whilst travelling, who are not able to print a copy, and only have the certificate on their phone/device, are permitted to email a copy of the certificate to ortia.operations@health.gov.za.

On arrival, the traveller must show the Port Health authorities the certificate on the mobile device plus proof of the email sent. The email can be sent prior to arrival in South Africa or once at the airport after arrival, but must be sent prior to reporting to Port Health for clearance

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Entry requirements for all arrivals

  • A valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, obtained not more than 72 hours (3 days) from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. The test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and the certificate must have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted the test.
  • Failure to present proof of a valid and negative test will require the traveller to quarantine at their own cost.
  • Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms and/or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
  • Travellers must provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country, subject to the accommodation allowing for self-quarantine.
  • Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person, they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
  • All travellers will be asked to download the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app. Information on the app can be found here.
  • Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers to covers any cost of testing or quarantine.
  • It is the responsibility of the airlines to check that passengers boarding flights to South Africa meet the requirements of entry.
  • All travellers need to complete an Exit Screening Health Questionnaire

ADJUSTED 'LEVEL 3' REGULATIONS

Does 'adjusted Level 3' mean the same as 'Level 3' issued in May 2020?

No. Adjusted Level 3 changes regulations are not the same as those issued in May and amended in July. Most notably, inter-provincial leisure travel is permitted, whereas in prior Level 3 regulations it was only permitted within provinces.

Which areas have been declared as hotspots?

Click here to view the Gazette indicating hotspots

  • Eastern Cape: Chris Hani District, Buffalo City, Amathole District, Alfred Nzo District and the OR Tambo District. These are in addition to Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Sarah Baartman District, which have already been declared hotspots.
  • KwaZulu-Natal: eThekwini, Umgungundlovu District, Ugu District, Harry Gwala District, King Cetshwayo District and Ilembe District.
  • Gauteng: West Rand District, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg.
  • Western Cape: West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, Cape Town, Central Karoo District are hotspots. This is in addition to the Garden Route District.
  • North West: Bojanala District.
  • Limpopo: the Waterberg District and the Capricorn District.

Are international borders still open?

Travel to and from South Africa is allowed subject to:

  • The traveller providing a valid certificate of a negative test 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 test, the traveller will be required to do an antigen test on arrival at his or her own costs
  • In the event of a traveller testing positive for COVID-19, he or she will be required to quarantine him or herself at his or own cost

International air travel is restricted to the following airports:

  • OR Tambo International Airport
  • King Shaka International Airport
  • Cape Town International Airport

Is domestic travel allowed?

The inter-ministerial briefing held on 29 December confirms that domestic travel is allowed.

The Transport Minister will issue directions for the resumption of different modes of public transport to cater for the gradual return to work of people in respect of, among others, domestic air travel, taxi services, bus services and private vehicles, etc.

Vehicles may not carry more than 70% of the licensed capacity for long-distance travel (defined as a trip of 200km or more), however, these may carry 100% of licensed capacity for any trip not regarded as long-distance travel.

Can we travel for leisure?

The Adjusted Level 3 Regulations do not prohibit leisure travel. International and domestic travel is permitted and subject to the strict health and hygiene protocols that can be found here.

The inter-ministerial briefing held on 29 December confirms that all travel is allowed.

What happens if my flight arrives within curfew hours?

The inter-ministerial briefing confirms that passengers can show proof of the boarding pass or ticket for their flight if stopped by law enforcement en route to the airport, hotel or home.

What are the curfew times that apply?

Every person must be confined to his or her place of residence from 21h00 to 06h00, except in areas declared a hotspot, unless:

  • They’ve been granted permission with a permit
  • Are attending to a security or medical emergency

What are the closing times for establishments?

Whether indoors or outdoors, the following establishments must close by 20h00:

  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Casinos
  • Museums, galleries and archives
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Restaurants
  • Venues hosting auctions
  • Venues hosting professional sport

Do customers have to wear a face mask?

The wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in a public place, and any person who fails to comply with a verbal instruction by an enforcement officer to wear a mask commits an offence and is, on conviction, liable to a fine or a period of imprisonment not exceeding six months. You should not allow entry to anyone who is not wearing a face mask.

Can venues host gatherings?

All social gatherings are prohibited for two weeks from 29 December.

An owner or operator of any facility where gatherings are held must display the certificate of occupancy which sets out the maximum number of persons the facility may hold.

Gatherings at restaurants, cinemas, theatres, conferencing, dining and entertainment facilities are limited to 50 persons or less for indoor venues and 100 persons or less for outdoor venues. If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.

Are all beaches closed?

No – only those in areas declared as hotspots.
All beaches, dams, lakes and river, inclusive of recreational facilities at these places are closed to the public in all the areas declared as hotspots

Are accommodation swimming pools open to guests?

This is not stipulated clearly in the Gazette, but it is our understanding that it would be reasonable that pools at accommodation establishments would not be defined as “public" and hence open to guests.

Are there regulations pertaining to beaches that are not closed?

Beaches that are open to the public in non-hotspots will only be open between 06h00 and 19h00 and will be monitored for compliance with all health protocols and social distancing measures.

Are game parks still allowed to operate?

Game parks, botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place, will remain open to the public.

These may be open between 09h00 and 18h00 and will be monitored for compliance with all health protocols, wearing of face masks and social distancing measures.

Can accommodation establishments operate at 100% capacity?

Hotels, lodges, B&Bs, timeshare facilities, resorts and guest houses are allowed full capacity of the available rooms for accommodation, with patrons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other when in common spaces.

Which places are closed to the public in the adjusted Level 3 regulations?

  • Night clubs
  • Swimming pools
  • Bars, taverns and shebeens
  • Public parks

Can I establishments serve alcohol at their premises?

The consumption of liquor in public places is prohibited. The tasting and selling of liquor to the public by registered wineries, wine farms and other similar establishments is prohibited. The regulations do not specifically address nuances such as mini bars or alcohol served as part of an all-inclusive package, but it is our understanding that the regulations extend to these.

When will the adjusted Level 3 Regulations be reviewed?

The Level 3 restrictions will remain in place until 15 January 2021 at which point they will be reviewed on the basis of the state of the pandemic in South Africa.