FEDHASA has written a letter to Health Minister, Minister Dr Joe Phaahla asking for the removal of the PCR Test Requirement for vaccinated travellers.
With the recent lifting of travel bans against South Africa, our travel and hospitality industry are working to rebuild the destination’s reputation and remove obstacles which hamper inbound international travel, the letter to the minister reads.
“One such obstacle is the negative PCR testing requirement for all inbound travellers visiting South Africa, regardless of their vaccination status,” says FEDHASA National Chairperson, Rosemary Anderson.
“For many of our key source markets, obtaining a negative PCR test specifically for travel is onerous, not reasonably available and expensive. The cost and inconvenience are exacerbated if they are visiting multiple destinations in Southern Africa over the general two-week or 10-day holiday period,” she adds.
The World Health Organization has stated that international travellers should not be considered as a priority group for COVID-19 testing and those who have been fully vaccinated should be exempt from heightened travel restrictions.
The letter further reads:
It is our firm belief that the same should be implemented in South Africa. We are competing against countries that have scrapped PCR testing for fully vaccinated travellers and have widespread community transmission in place already which renders the requirement for PCR testing redundant.
This being the case, one is as likely to be exposed to and be infected with COVID-19 from your neighbour who has not travelled as you are an international traveller. The virus isn’t discerning as to through whom it chooses to spread.
Thus, the requirement of a PCR test for inbound travellers is akin to locking the door to something undesirable when it’s already in your home. The only weapons in our arsenal against the spread of COVID are the non-pharmaceutical interventions we have in place and widespread vaccination.
Following the knee-jerk travel bans instituted against South Africa late last year, we have also seen that travel bans were not effective in stemming the spread of the variant, even with the requirement of a PCR test in place into and out of South Africa.
Now that these travel bans have been lifted, we have a small window of opportunity to attract our international travellers back to South Africa so that we begin the long and arduous process of rebuilding. Removing the PCR test requirement for vaccinated travellers will go some way in helping us to achieve this.