JOHANNESBURG (NewsNation Now) — The number of countries allowing Americans to visit amid the coronavirus pandemic has increased by one.
After being closed to tourism for most of 2020, the government of South Africa announced this week that international travelers will once again be allowed within its borders.
South African President Cyril Ramasphosa posted on Twitter on Wednesday that all visitors would be welcome, “subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.”
That negative test will have to be taken within 72 hours of arriving in the country, and no quarantine period will be necessary with a negative test.
“As our economy has been steadily opening up and restrictions on movement and activity have been eased, we have been able to turn our attention from these emergency measures towards and ambitious plan of economic reconstruction,” Ramasphosa wrote. “Through the various interventions that we are making to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are shifting from relief to recovery.”
South Africa has reported more than 742,000 coronavirus cases and over 20,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. The country, which is considered Africa’s most advanced economy, has seen infections rise since it eased lockdown restrictions in September to their lowest levels.
South Africa opened its borders to some international travelers at the beginning of October after a six-month ban, but restricted entry from high-risk countries, with the latest list including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Brazil and India.
The country depends heavily on tourism, which prior to the pandemic contributed nearly 9% of its gross domestic product and employed over 4% of the workforce.
The economy was already in recession before the pandemic struck.
Ramaphosa warned of a potential resurgence in infections, saying the number of new cases in the Eastern Cape province was 50% higher than the week before, with higher infection rates also seen in the Northern Cape and Western Cape regions.
“We have also seen in other countries how a resurgence can dash hopes for a swift economic recovery,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.