Leisure travellers from countries with coronavirus infection rates higher than South Africa, including Britain, the United States and France, will not be permitted to enter when South Africa's borders open up on October 1, Ministers said on Wednesday.
But business travellers from countries considered "high-risk," which also include the Netherlands, Russia and India, with scarce and critical skills including diplomats, repatriated persons and investors will be allowed to enter, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said.
"We will review the data every two weeks," Pandor told a news conference, saying the government would be guided by epidemiological data when deciding which countries were deemed high-risk.
President Cyril Ramaphosa this month eased lockdown restrictions in a country which had one of the world's strictest at the height of its Covid-19 outbreak. The easing included opening up to air travel, bringing relief to its badly battered tourism industry.
The tourism sector makes up almost 9% of the GDP of Africa's most industrialised country and employs nearly three -quarters of a million people, according to the country's tourism marketing agency and the statistics office. SA Tourism, the marketing agency, has said nearly 440 000 tourism jobs are at risk because of the pandemic.
Last year, South Africa welcomed over ten-million foreign visitors. The top ten origin countries, which accounted for 73% of tourist arrivals, include the US, UK, France, India and the Netherlands, all of which are on the "high-risk" list read out by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.