Could inter-provincial travel be stopped if SA’s COVID-19 rates surge?

Although the numbers seem relatively manageable at the moment, some experts believe South Africa will be hit by a second wave of COVID-19 – as seen across Europe and Asia. As summer looms over the horizon, many holidaymakers will already be planning their next big road trip – but could this be curtailed by the shut-down of inter-provincial travel?

Could South Africa shut-down inter-provincial travel again?

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the leading epidemiologist in South Africa, has been assessing the chances of a second wave hitting the country. He says that a surge in the virus is inevitable if certain behaviours don’t change. It’s possible that COVID-19 may come back with a vengeance in the next few months, which could force Cabinet into some tough decisions.

One of those on the table, according to the professor, is reviewing the scope of inter-provincial travel. Although he wouldn’t commit to a firm position on the matter, Karim did suggest that it would be a matter up for ‘robust discussion’.

“Temperatures do affect the virus. It survives on surfaces for a smaller amount of time. But when the weather gets warmer our behaviour changes. There are more people mixing outdoors. That’s why COVID-19 continues to spread in summer.”

“The idea that we can do things at a national level without substantial harm in terms of the negative effects is quite limited. I think people will have to look for much more local adventures. Whether that involves the closing of provincial borders, that’s still to be decided – I certainly don’t think this an issue that will be taken lightly.”

Professor Salim Abdool Karim on inter-provincial travel

Professor Karim on local travel restrictions

Inter-provincial travel only allowed from Level 2 of lockdown onwards. President Ramaphosa has previously stated that South Africa could move down the Alert Phase chart, should COVID-19 regroup, and replicate the infection numbers seen during July. Should we return to Level 3, the rules state that crossing into another province is strictly off-limits.

However, Karim’s concerns about domestic restrictions remain hypothetical at the moment. And any decision on provincial travel would likely have a significant impact on international travel too. You can catch the professor’s full interview here:

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Presh JM Reporter

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