Borders remain closed

ZIMBABWE’s borders stay closed to general human travel and the lockdown regulations as introduced by the Authorities have not changed regardless of South Africa announcing the opening of its borders, together with Beitbridge.

There was hype among the generality of Zimbabweans, particularly cross-border merchants when South Africa introduced the reopening of its borders, together with Beitbridge Border Post, for vacationers and travellers effective today.

South Africa announced that Beitbridge Border Post, which was part of the 18 inland ports of entry, which were partially operational, shall be fully operational while 35 border posts currently closed will stay closed.

Zimbabwe and South Africa closed their borders to general human traffic, together with Beitbridge Border Post, in March when they effected their first 21-day lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19. The closure of Beitbridge Border Post, the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa that is shared by Zimbabwe and South Africa, affected largely Zimbabweans who relied on cross-border travel.

Authorities recently lifted the ban on domestic and international air travel. Domestic and foreign travel, which were banned on March 30 as Authorities imposed measures to curb the unfold of Covid-19, are set to renew today. Nonetheless, strict Covid-19 measures shall be adhered to in the opening up of the aviation sector.

 Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe mentioned only commercial traffic, diplomats and returning residents are allowed passage through the country’s borders.

He mentioned Zimbabwe stays guided by the Public Health (Covid-19) Prevention, Containment and Treatment, Statutory Instrument 77 of 2020.

“We haven’t opened Beitbridge Border Post and other borders as yet. Our borders are open to commercial cargo, diplomats and returning residents. In reality, the rules as stipulated by the current SIs still stand and the issue shall be discussed sooner or later,” mentioned Minister Kazembe.

A total of 9 331 Zimbabweans have between March and September returned by road via Beitbridge Border Post and put in various provincial quarantine and isolation centres countrywide.

Before the beginning of the lockdown in March, half a million people would use the port of entry to access South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In an announcement, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) head of border operations, ports of entry and customs compliance, Mr Beyers Theron mentioned upon arrival, a traveller will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure.

“Where a traveller has not done a Covid-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost for the period of 10 days. All travellers shall be subjected to screening by Port Health officers upon arrival and departure,” he mentioned.

Travellers detected with symptoms shall be required to stay in quarantine until a repeat Covid-19 test is carried out at their own cost.

Mr Theron mentioned all travellers shall be subjected to screening by Port Health officers upon arrival and departure. Travellers will also be required to complete traveller health questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the port of entry.

Apart from the health protocols, travellers will still be subjected to other formal border processes.

“All travellers should wear masks at all times whilst within the ports of entry-controlled area. Port officers are to make sure that port users adhere to social distancing as a part of queue management protocol,” mentioned Mr Theron.

Truck drivers are also required to present Covid-19 negative results upon departure from and arrival in South Africa.

For truck drivers, crew members and frequent travellers, the Covid-19 test results remain legitimate for 14 days after the first movement.

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