Frequently asked questions

What is the protocol for foreign in-country travellers who have spent time in high-risk countries?


All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since 15 February 2020 will be required to present themselves for testing. As a precaution, travellers who are not showing symptoms will be asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, which is in line with national and international protocols. Travellers should call the NICD Hotline on 0800 029 999 or the Provincial Hotline on 021 928 4102. You will get advice on what to do.




What is the latest update for foreigners travelling into South Africa?


All entry, regardless of compliance with visa requirements, of foreign travellers with ordinary passports, travelling from or transiting through high-risk countries presently identified as the Italian Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany,the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, the Swiss Confederation and the People’s Republic of China is prohibited until further notice.

No applications for visas by foreign travellers from high-risk countries will be approved. Visas already issued are revoked with immediate effect for travellers that have not yet entered South Africa.

Visa waiver agreements with countries identified by the Department of Health as high- and medium-risk will be suspended from dates that will be advised through Travel Alerts.

Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.

Any foreign national affected by these travel restrictions who needs to travel to South Africa for emergency or compelling reasons may contact the nearest South African mission or consulate to apply for a visa. Such visa applications will be considered on merit and on a case-by-case basis.

The above restrictions exclude holders of diplomatic passports and travel documents issued by international organisations as well as their family members accredited to the Republic of South Africa, and holders of official/service passports.

The travel restrictions will also not apply to the crew members of aircraft and cargo ships, as well as cross border rail and road transportation workers. However, such travellers will be subjected to medical screening and if required, can be isolated or quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.

ALL INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS

All international travellers, including South African citizens, entering South Africa will be required to complete and submit the prescribed Health Form and hand it to Health officials and Immigration officers upon arrival.

All travellers will be subjected to medical screening for COVID-19 upon entering South Africa and if required, can be isolated or quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. Over and above the normal immigration requirements, entry into South Africa is subject to a passenger’s cooperation with officials conducting tests.

Travellers from medium-risk countries as identified by the South African Department of Health will be required to undergo high intensity screening.

All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since 15 February 2020 will be required to present themselves for testing.

South Africa has placed restrictions on attendance of international meetings. All organisers or attendees of international meetings are strongly advised to confirm whether attendance will be permitted before travelling to South Africa.




Can I travel out of the country and what should travellers be aware of?


South African citizens planning to travel or transit through the Italian Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, the Swiss Confederation and the People’s Republic of China presently identified as high risk countries, as well as the European Union, should refrain from doing so.

This includes all forms of travel to or through identified high-risk countries. South African citizens are also to refrain from traveling on cruise ships due to the inherent risks involved in such travel as recent experiences have shown. This is effective immediately, until further notice.

Non-essential travel to other countries should also be cancelled or postponed.

South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa. South African citizens should be aware that there are health risks when they travel and should check the travel and health notices for COVID-19 at their destinations.

Increased health screening measures at ports of entry for international destinations, which may include entry requirements, border closures, flight suspensions and quarantines, can be expected.




Can I cancel a flight, and what is the process to get a refund on domestic flights owing to the Covid-19 virus?


Domestic carriers such as British Airways, Kulula, Mango, Safair and SAA operating domestic flights in South Africa have provisioned for additional levels of flexibility pertaining to refunds, postponements and cancellations. Visit your carrier's website for specific information.




Is there a list of tourism product offerings not operating at this time?


Cape Town Tourism offers comprehensive information on how Cape Town's top attractions are operating during the COVID-19 pandemic - https://www.capetown.travel/how-cape-towns-top-attractions-are-operating-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/




Is self-quarantine required after domestic travel?


The mandatory 14-day self-quarantine is only required from persons entering SA internationally. Self-quarantine from domestic travel is not mandatory but is strongly advised.




What can I do to ensure the safety of my employees?


All sections of our society – including businesses and employees – must play a role in stopping the spread of this disease. Where possible, employers can consider allowing employees to work from home. Employers must ensure that workplaces are clean and hygienic, and surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
Make soap and hand sanitizers available for washing hands. It is advisable to delay or avoid non-essential travel. In particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions. If you cannot delay travelling ensure that employees comply with instructions from local authorities where they are traveling to.
In addition, create a ready-to-refer instructional guide for employers to educate them about COVID-19 and enlist ways to ways to avoid its spread. You can use communication channels such as sticking posters on the wall.




My employees are too scared or refuse to come to work, what can I do?


Advise the employees not to panic but to contact the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (http://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/covid-19-communication-resources) and the Western Cape government's coronavirus page (https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/coronavirus) for more information on COVID-19.
Inform the employees of the measures that the company has put in place at the workplace to mitigate the spread of the virus.




My employees are refusing to take public transport, what can I do?


Inform the employees about the measures that have been put in place by the Department of Transport within the public transport environment. These measures are listed below:

  • The Department of Transport will implement an aggressive information drive to create awareness and promote preventative measures. Taxi and bus operators must become ambassadors whose task is to disseminate information.
  • The Department of Transport will engage the leadership of the taxi and bus industries to mount an aggressive information drive working closely with the Department of Health on preventative measures in the public transport environment
  • Random testing measures be implemented in the public transport environment, with particular emphasis on commuter rail.




What rights do I have as a worker if I need to self-isolate after being tested positive?


A worker who has tested positive should continue to stay in isolation and follow the advice received from the healthcare practitioner. Inform your employer of your test results and only discontinue home isolation in consultation with healthcare provider.




What support (from Government, SARS, UIF, banks, insurance companies, etc.) is available to business and their staff during this time? (e.g. tax break, grants, delayed payments, unemployment, etc.)


The government has announced, through the Presidency, that cabinet is in the process of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected impact of COVID-19 on our economy.

The Minister of Employment and Labour said on 17 March that to assist distressed companies, a period of reprieve would be considered in order for companies not to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). He said that the Funds Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme would be used to ensure that workers are not laid off. He said that in instances where companies decide to close for a short period as a precautionary measure, the short-term UIF benefit would kick in. If a company were to consider a short-term shut down, they would have to inform the UIF, who would then send through a team to assist with claims.




Is government going to provide stimulus packages to support businesses?


At the moment there is no stimulus package in place. The government has announced, through the Presidency, that cabinet is in the process of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected impact of COVID-19 on our economy.




Will the government provide temporary debt relief measures to help soften the economic impact on households?


No household relief measures have been identified or implemented by government as of yet. However, continuous consultation with stakeholders and various sector bodies is currently in progress and measures will be communicated once available.




What is the social distancing protocol for face-to-face interactions?


Consider all online or teleconference options as a priority. For essential face-to-face meetings, the suggested protocol for social distancing is 6-feet or a minimum of 1-meter. Wipe down surfaces before and after any face-to-face meetings. If you are showing any signs of illness, avoid face-to-face meetings.




What is the protocol for foreign in-country travellers who have spent time in high-risk countries?


All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since 15 February 2020 will be required to present themselves for testing. As a precaution, travellers who are not showing symptoms will be asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, which is in line with national and international protocols. Travellers should call the NICD Hotline on 0800 029 999 or the Provincial Hotline on 021 928 4102. You will get advice on what to do.




What is the social distancing protocol for face-to-face interactions?


Consider all online or teleconference options as a priority. For essential face-to-face meetings, the suggested protocol for social distancing is 6-feet or a minimum of 1-meter. Wipe down surfaces before and after any face-to-face meetings. If you are showing any signs of illness, avoid face-to-face meetings.




Are there self-testing kits I can buy online or in stores?


No, tests should only be administered by health professionals and results recorded throught the National Department of Health's processes. All the COVID-19 testing products available in SA are registered with the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), please notify them if you are unsure.




Does SA have enough medical equipment and medicine to treat the pandemic?


Yes, SAHPRA is in constant communication with manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists and other healthcare providers to identify and respond to medicine and/or medical device shortages that may arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.




Are there any medicines or vaccines against COVID-19 I can access?


Currently, there are no antiviral medicines or vaccines which have been approved globally for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. However, a number of vaccines are under development and some medicines are currently being assessed in clinical trials for efficacy against COVID-19 infection. When a vaccine or medicine is developed to prevent or treat COVID-19, SAHPRA will take appropriate action to ensure availability. Measures include fast-tracking through the: · Scientific review of new medicines or vaccines through a priority review process · Special Access Program for practitioners treating patients with serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed or are unavailable · Expedited review of clinical trials for new vaccines, new or repurposed antivirals, or supportive therapies




What resources or information does the COVID-19 Content Centre have available for business?


The COVID-19 Content Centre is a virtual centre consisting of sector specialists and communications experts to develop reliable content to assist industry and manage daily queries and business concerns.




What are other businesses doing to adapt their operations to the rapidly changing situation?


COVID-19 Content Centre is actively collating best practices from around the world. This will be shared as soon as it is available. If you believe your business has a best-practice solution, please contact us on supportbusiness@wesgro.co.za




I am an exporter. When will international trade show's recommence?


Many trade shows have been postponed or cancelled in light of Covid-19. Exporters need to ensure that they keep up to date with new trade show dates as they are published online or contact the show organisers.




I am an exporter. How do I keep my existing clients on board post COVID-19?


Stay in regular contact with your buyers/ importers and partners.
Keep them informed of what you are doing in your business to keep your environment safe.
Be sensitive to the fact that their business is also affected by this crisis and that they to are impacted in their business.
Stay in touch with your industry body and export council.
Be aware that many events are being cancelled or rescheduled and the impact of that on business.
Prepare a plan for when the pandemic effects ease so you can scale up delivery and promotion of your product or service.




I am an exporter. Covid-19 has impacted business operations. What can I do?


The Covid 19 virus has impacted all elements in our daily lives and business operations. It has slowed down business activity and disrupted operations around the world. The slow activity has given opportunity for exporters to begin “cleaning their house”. Exporters can now have the time to optimize and manage suppliers and local business relationships. Utilize technology and rethink how you will operate in the future in light of the Covid-19 virus. One can improve management and business models, provide needed training to staff and even strategize new global opportunities.




How does Coronavirus affect commercial contracts? (Answers provided by ENSafrica)


The recent outbreak of the novel Coronavirus [COVID-19] has and likely will have serious consequences for many commercial contracts.

On 11 March 2020 the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic, and on 15 March 2020 the President of the Republic of South Africa declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. In terms of the President’s declaration, travel is banned from certain high-risk countries to South Africa, gatherings of more than a hundred people are prohibited and South African schools are to be closed from 18 March 2020, amongst other measures. The consequences of this declaration, as well as the consequences of the outbreak itself, will no doubt be far-reaching.

Parties to commercial contracts may be unable to perform due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This does not necessarily mean that they are excused from performance under all circumstances. The nature and extent to which a party may be excused from performance will depend on the nature of the impediment to performance, as well as, of course, on the specific provisions in the contract. It is common for commercial contracts to contain a force majeure clause.




What is a force majeure clause?


A clause in a contract that regulates what happens when an extraordinary event or circumstances beyond the control of the parties (e.g. war, strike, riot, crime) or an event described by the legal term ‘act of god’ (e.g. flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption) prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.




Would the outbreak of the Coronavirus constitute a force majeure event?


Force majeure clauses include a number of events beyond the control of the parties that can have an impact on their ability to perform their obligations, and may suspend or terminate the affected party’s obligation to perform, or extend the time period in which to perform. A force majeure clause may explicitly provide for “plagues” or “serious epidemics” or it may provide a more general category of events beyond the reasonable control of a party.

Accordingly, the question of whether or not the Coronavirus may trigger a force majeure clause in a particular contract will require a detailed analysis of the contract and the facts and circumstances of the particular case.




What if a contract does not contain a force majeure clause?


In contracts that do not contain a force majeure clause, the South African common law principles in relation to supervening impossibility will apply. These typically provide that if performance has become objectively impossible due to no fault of the non-performing party and as a result of an unavoidable event, that party will be released from their obligation to perform and the contract will as a general rule be terminated.




What are the requirements for supervening impossibility: in the absence of a force majeureclause, when will a party’s non-performance due to impossibility be excused?


  • The impossibility of performance must be as a result of vis major or casus fortuitus (broadly, these terms require that the impossibility must have been unavoidable by a reasonable person): A party’s non-performance will not be excused where impossibility was their own fault or where the impossibility was avoidable. The outbreak of the Coronavirus and the President’s declaration clearly constitute vis majorunder our common law.
  • The performance must be objectively or absolutely impossible: The performance must be either physically or legally impossible and the requirement will not be met if performance has, for example, simply become more burdensome or more costly. Performance will be legally impossible if such conduct would contravene any applicable law, which would, of course, include the measures provided for under the declaration of a national state of disaster.
  • As a general rule, the inability of a particular person to pay does not amount to supervening impossibility. As a practical example of this, while the outbreak of the Coronavirus constitutes a force majeure event under our common law, this pandemic may result in certain (but not all) persons’ revenue decreasing, which may in turn result in certain (but not all) persons’ being unable to pay their debts. An inability of certain persons to pay their debts does not (in accordance with current jurisprudence) amount to supervening impossibility excusing them from their obligations to pay as this performance is not objectively impossible, but rather only subjectively impossible.
  • Some legal systems have doctrines to cope with a “change of circumstances” post conclusion of the contract, which render performance so expensive or unreasonable in the circumstances that a party is excused from performance, or the parties are required to renegotiate the terms of the contract. Our law at present has no such doctrine and only a change causing supervening impossibility excuses performance.




What should I do if my ability to meet my contractual obligations is affected by Coronavirus?


Parties to contracts whose ability to perform is impacted by Coronavirus should take advice on whether or not they are able to rely on a force majeure clause in their contracts or perhaps, the South African common law doctrine of supervening impossibility.




What should I do if I anticipate that my commercial contracts will be affected by Coronavirus going forward?


Businesses should review their commercial arrangements in order to develop strategies to mitigate business disruption. When negotiating new contracts, the impact of a global pandemic such as Coronavirus should also be carefully considered to ascertain whether it may, in the context, amount to a force majeure event or may, again context dependent, have a “material adverse effect” on a transaction or the implementation of a transaction.