There’s been an almighty amount of chatter about where South Africans are allowed to go now hotels and accredited accommodation venues can reopen to the public during Level 3. However, the discussion about “intra and inter-provincial” travel has caused a fair few headaches this weekend – especially for a certain minister.

Not everyone is playing ball with these lockdown restrictions, though. And the issues surrounding the current regulations seem more jumbled than a pair of headphone wires stuffed into someone’s back pocket. But, fear not; we’re on hand to explain what has changed – and what remains the same – for our domestic travel laws.

Intra and inter-provincial travel: What’s the difference, and has anything changed?

The rules for intra-provincial travel have been amended

The government has fumbled its own directives on this one. They gazetted laws that allowed tourist businesses to reopen last Thursday, before Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said no hotels or accommodation were allowed to open for any reason bar professional commitments. The tourism industry, however, has made its own mind up.

They can indeed operate under the newly-gazetted laws, and the leading voices of this economic sector have forged ahead in opening their doors to local travelers. A quick Twitter search reveals that scores of venues are now taking bookings, but they will only be able to welcome “intra-provincial visitors” from Monday onwards.

Intra-provincial means that people must only travel in the provinces they live in. You can, for example, go from Durban to Richard’s Bay, but you cannot go from Johannesburg to Limpopo. So although you are allowed an overnight break, leisure travel outside of your province is still forbidden.

The rules for inter-provincial travel stay the same

As remains the case since Level 3 was implemented at the start of June, you can undertake an inter-provincial journey only for the following reasons – most of which will require a permit:

  • Work reasons: You can now cross provincial borders in a professional capacity if you have your permit.
  • Moving house: Those going to a new place of residence have permission to travel under Level 3 laws.
  • Care responsibilities: People can now cross provincial borders to ‘care for an immediate family member’.
  • Going to school: Students who have to commute to and from schools can now move freely.
  • Attendance of funerals: This is also allowed in Level 4 of lockdown.
  • Transporting mortal remains: Under strict medical guidelines, inter-provincial travel gives leeway to burials.
  • Seeking medical treatment: If you’re nearer to a hospital that’s across a provincial border, you can now go there.
  • Leaving quarantine: Those leaving isolation away from their homes can return home without domestic limits.
  • Movement of children: Kids in co-parenting situations can now journey into different provinces to see each caregiver.
  • MPs performing ‘oversight’ tasks: This applies to just 400 of us. But yes. They can also travel freely during Level 3.

When will inter-provincial travel return?

We cannot share an exact date on this, but according to the government’s own guidelines, inter-provincial travel will be permitted at Level 2 of lockdown. But with South Africa set to encounter a peak of infections, it’s unlikely that this will happen any time soon. More reasons of necessity may be added to the list above, though.

Taxi firms take the law into their own hands

On a day where restaurants got the green-light to open and new directives were published for the aviation industry, taxi operators ended up defying the lockdown laws. Infuriated by the terms of a bailout package shared last week, unions such as Santaco told drivers to fill their cabs up to 100% capacity.

The rogue firms are also undertaking long-distance, inter-provincial journeys – against government advice. Those who manage to get through roadblocks will be breaking the law if they travel into another province without the required paperwork.

The stubborn act has left Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula spitting feathers, and he accused taxi groups of ‘challenging the state’s authority’. For the record, there have been no restrictions lifted on inter-provincial travel since changes were announced on 1 June 2020.


Presh JM Reporter

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