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Unpacking level 3 regulations for Travel Businesses webinar FAQs

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ASATA: Unpacking level 3 regulations for Travel Businesses webinar FAQs

Additional information on travel in Alert Level 3 can be found on the ASATA page: Level 3 Regulations. An Advanced Level 3 was announced on 17 June and the details for further allowances will be made shortly.

What does it mean that the lockdown regulations have been declared unconstitutional?

Components of the lockdown regulations in Alert Levels 3 and 4 have been declared unconstitutional by the North Gauteng High Court.

The court has said that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, must redraft the regulations in accordance with the constitution.

In the meantime, the current lockdown regulations will still apply. The courts will not repeal any regulations without giving government an opportunity to make amendments, as not to compromise efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

However, due to the nature of the applications, any changes to the regulations as a result of these court challenges are unlikely to have any impact on the situation for tourism and travel in the short-term. That said, outside of the courts, the tourism and travel industry has been making headway lobbying government for an earlier reopening of international travel.

What timeline can we expect for the reopening of international travel?

South Africa’s tourism private-sector, including ASATA, under the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), has been engaging on the Tourism Recovery Strategy that was presented to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism on Tuesday 9 June.

The data-driven Tourism Recovery Strategy advocates unequivocally for an earlier phased reopening of international tourism to South Africa as soon as September 2020.

Encouragingly, the allowances for corporate travel and accommodation we see in Alert Level 3 are a direct result of lobbying efforts – as there was originally no talk of travel in any form returning in Alert Level 3.

This is a huge win from a lobbying perspective and also furthers our position by showing government that the tourism and travel sector is capable of de-risking and operating safely at a higher Alert Level.

For ASATA’s part, we have emphasised that the industry needs a definitive date to work towards. Travel often requires long lead times and businesses need to implement health and safety protocols and train staff in advance of opening. Also, it has been raised that the ecosystem of travel and aviation is highly interconnected – for instance, you cannot operate international outbound without international inbound.

Read more about the Tourism Recovery Strategy here.  

What activities are allowed?

The Level 3 Regulations on permitted activities can be found here. In Advanced Level 3, the following are allowed in addition:

  • Restaurants for sit-down meals, with limited capacity
  • Person care services, including hairdressers
  • Conferences for work purposes
  • Commercially licensed accommodation (but not home-sharing services)
  • Cinemas, theatres and casinos, with limited capacity
  • Non-contact sports, including golf and tennis

As ASATA, we are continuously working to further clarify any ambiguities of the regulations, and of course, lobby for the return of leisure travellers, both domestic and international, to take up these travel products and services.

What is important is that all stakeholders in the tourism and travel industry play their part to comply with the regulations and protocols.

It is also imperative now to keep customers’ needs and concerns at the forefront of your operations. For a while to come, there is going to be a lot of uncertainty around travel. By helping your customers navigate this uncertainty – advising on the correct documentation and what to expect when they arrive at an airport, accommodation or attraction – you are elevating the value of travel agents in the travel and tourism chain.

Who can travel, and what documentation is required?

Who is the travellerForm descriptionWhere to find the formRequired signature
Business travellersPermit to perform an essential or permitted serviceForm 2, Annexure A, page 29Must be signed by business head
Children moving between co-holders of parental/caregiver responsibilities and rightsPermit for the movement of children to travelForm 3, Annexure A, page 30Must be sworn at a police station or magistrate’s court
Learners or students returning to school or universityCertificate for learners or students to travelForm 3A, Amendment of Annexure A, page 16Must be signed and stamped by the head of school/institution
Learners or students returning to school or universityPermit to transport learners or studentsForm 3B, Amendement of Annexure A, page 17Must be signed and stamped by the head of school/institution
Persons attending the funeral of a spouse/partner, child, child-in-law, parent, sibling, or grandparentPermit to travel for a funeralForm 4, Annexure A, page 31Must be sworn at a police station or magistrate’s court
Persons attending the funeral of a spouse/partner, child, child-in-law, parent, sibling, or grandparentSworn affidavit by person who wishes to attend a funeralForm 5, Annexure A, page 32Must be sworn at a police station or magistrate’s court
Persons moving to a new place of residenceSworn affidavit by person who intends to travel to and from another province during Alert Level 3Form 6, Amendement of Annexure A, page 18Must be sworn at a police station or magistrate’s court

Members of Parliament, persons needing to travel for medical treatment and persons returning to their place of residence from a quarantine or isolation facility are also permitted to travel between provinces, metropolitan areas and districts

What international travel is permitted under Alert Level 3?

In Alert Level 3, international travel was initially only allowed for humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies, and the movement of staff of diplomatic and international organisations.

A recent amendment to the regulations now states that international travel is permitted for South African citizens or permanent residents for the purposes of travelling to their place of employment, study or residence. This travel will occur at their own cost and subject to the capacity available on international flights permitted for evacuation and repatriation.

The traveller must provide the Department of Home Affairs, at least five working days in advance of the intended date of travel, with:

  • A copy of their valid South African passport;
  • A letter of confirmation of admissibility or the validity of the visa or permit, issued by the relevant diplomatic or consular mission or authority of the receiving country;
  • Where transiting through another country, proof of permission to transit through such country;
  • Proof of the means of travel and the intended date of departure.

Upon return, South African citizens or permanent residents must undergo screening or examination – and subsequent isolation or quarantine if referred – before being admitted to the Republic.

The owner or person in charge of a conveyance, to enter or depart from South Africa, must provide the Department of Home Affairs and International Relations and Cooperation a list with details (manifest) of passengers and crew, prior to such entry or departure.

It is the responsibility of the owner or person in charge of a conveyance to ensure that all passengers are admissible in the country of disembarkation.

What air travel is permitted and which airlines are flying?

The Level 3 Regulations on flights can be found here.

Air travel is only permitted for the purposes stated above and will only operate from Cape Town International, King Shaka International, O.R. Tambo International and Lanseria airports.

The Minister of Transport has indicated that secondary and tertiary airports around South Africa will open in phases. Kruger, Polokwane, Bramfisher are expected to open in the next phase, but a date is not yet known.

Air travel is not permitted for recreational, leisure or tourism purposes in Level 3.

AirlineOperations
CemAirOperating flights as of 05 June
AirlinkOperating flights as of 08 June
FlySafairOperating flights from 15 June
MangoOperating flights from 15 June
KululaIn business rescue, possibly operating from November
SAAReceived approvals to operate repatriation flights to and from the destinations listed here
ComairIn business rescue

What do you need to consider when booking accommodation for a guest?

The Level 3 Regulations on accommodation can be found here.

In Advanced Level 3, commercially licensed accommodations (but not home-sharing services) are permitted to operate. Guests must comply with the check-in requirements and share all relevant details in the event that contact tracking and tracing is required.

It is essential for accommodation establishments to commit to the health and safety protocols to protect their guests and show the government that de-risking their operations is possible.

The TBCSA health and safety protocols have been approved by the National Department of Tourism. Generally speaking, implementation of the protocols will be self-regulated by the accommodation establishments themselves, but they will need to provide some form of proof that they are compliant, e.g. a certificate. ASATA will share updates when available.

How can travel businesses reopen safely and in compliance with the regulations?

As tourism and travel attempt to de-risk the sector with a view to lobbying for an earlier relaunch, a set of protocols has been developed by the TBCSA with input from various member associations. These protocols, along with serval other resources, can be found on the ASATA site:

  • Tourism Industry Standard Protocols for Covid-19 Operations here
  • Occupational Health And Safety For Tourism And Travel Businesses webinar and FAQs here
  • Guidelines To Get Your Travel Agency Ready For Reopening infographic here

Some of the key messages:

  • Your business needs to appoint a Covid-19 compliance officer to ensure adherence to the protocols.
  • If you or your staff can work from home, you must. This is particularly true for people who fall into high-risk categories – who may insist that their employer allows them to work from home. 
  • You need to do a risk assessment of where your business is vulnerable, and who is vulnerable amongst your staff, as well as amongst all guests/visitors/passengers/clients (GVPCs).
  • You need to put controls in place to mitigate against these risks, including:
    • Engineering controls, e.g. disable biometric staff entrance systems or disinfect after each use, ensure good ventilation.
    • Administrative controls, e.g. work-from-home policy, rotating shifts, 1.5m distance between coworkers, hand sanitisers at all entrances, disinfect work surfaces, hand washing, employee training.
    • PPE, e.g. provide employees with at least three masks each, visors for high-risk employees, Perspex screens for public-facing employees, a touchless thermometer to screen people upon entry to the premises.

How should employers collect health information from their employees?

Employers are required to collect health information from their employees to ascertain their risk level and facilitate tracking and tracing efforts if necessary.

“It is important for employers to reassure their staff that all health information they provide will be kept confidential and is only being collected for the purposes of maintaining a safe and hazard-free workplace.  The employer does have a legal duty to disclose to the government if an employee has tested positive for Covid-19, and to provide administrative support to the Department of Health for their track and trace efforts.

However, employees may not be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their Covid-19 status or any other disclosed health information. It is also a criminal offence for anyone to disclose any information contained in the government’s national Covid-19 database unless authorised to do so and only if the disclosure is necessary for addressing, preventing or combatting the spread of Covid-19. Within six weeks of the State of Disaster being over, the government is legally required to anonymise or destroy all the information collected as part of the national Covid-19 database.

If employees don’t feel that their information is being collected and shared responsibly, they may understandably be anxious about disclosing this information and whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.”

There is a two-step screening process that members of staff and customers may undergo. If a person displays or discloses Covid-19 symptoms, they will have their temperature taken. If their temperature is above a certain degree, they will be sent home or placed in isolation. A health clinic will determine whether they meet the threshold for testing; those who are not tested or those who receive a positive test result will need to remain in self-isolation or quarantine. At this point, the government will commence the tracking and tracking process, and the applicable health information will be shared.

If a person tests positive on your premises, the government can close your business to undergo a deep cleaning, Businesses should be prepared for this possibility – knowing who to contact and what cleaning protocols to follow –  to minimise the amount of time they must remain closed.

Do arrivals to South Africa need to go into quarantine or self-isolation?

Whether entering through one of South Africa’s international airports or through a land border from a neighbouring country, all arrivals to South Africa must self-isolate for 14 days.

The government currently has the right to force a person to enter a state-approved facility for the purposes of quarantine or self-isolation. However, this is one of the regulations being challenged in court at the moment as it is seen as an infringement of your rights and freedom of movement.

In most cases, people will be allowed to self-isolate at home or at the accommodation of their choosing.

It is unclear as of yet whether this requirement will remain in place after international tourism resumes in full.

Can a family member or friend accompany a business traveller?

No, it is not allowed for family members or friends to accompany a business traveller on their trip.

There may be an exception if the accompanying person is a minor and the business traveller is the minor’s sole legal guardian.

Where can I find information on repatriation flights?

The ASATA site is continuously updated with repatriation flight information, but it is changing rapidly.

It is important to note that repatriation flights are NOT open for booking by any intermediaries, including travel agents (read the announcement here). All arrangements must be handled by the Department of International Relations and Corporation (DIRCO) or the respective embassy.

It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that they have the correct documentation and clearance in advance. Visit DIRCO’s website for information on South African citizen repatriation as well as all contacts for South African representation offices abroad.

While they cannot book, travel agents can help source information on repatriation flights for their customers. However, it can be difficult to find the most up-to-date information on who’s flying and when and we advise travel agents to check airlines’ websites and platforms often for updates (e.g. SAA and KLM appear to be updated regularly).

Some airlines may appear to have concluded their repatriation flights out of South Africa. But it is important for travellers who wish to return to their country of residence, work or study to express their interest in additional repatriation flights (e.g. completing a formal registration with the airline, sending an email, phoning customer support, etc.) It is possible that if an airline receives enough interest, it will organise additional repatriation flights.

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is unprecedented and unpredictable. The nature of the content that is being shared on the ASATA coronavirus microsite is therefore constantly changing. Please check the date of the post to ascertain its recency.
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