Welcome to Africa: A country-by-country guide to reopening
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
At The Points Guy, we’re not recommending travel right now in light of the coronavirus, but we are encouraging folks to think about where they want to go once it’s safe to travel again.
We’ve been doing a lot of stories about our dream trips and when we can realistically book them. Africa is at the top of our wish list. And several countries in Africa have reopened to tourism.
This guide summarizes each country’s current status for international travel.
Algeria has begun to reopen internally and lift some of the restrictions that were present. International and domestic travel never ceased.
Some businesses have been able to open and public transportation is now allowed to resume operations.
A curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in 29 provinces.
Algeria has had 26,259 cases and 1,136 deaths.
International flights have been cancelled since March and the government of Angola has not released any plans to resume travel. Some districts are quarantined including Cazengo and Luanda Province. No travel is allowed in or out of these districts and face masks are required. Physical activity is permitted from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and group exercise is permitted with social distancing.
Botswana is one of Africa’s more southern tourist locations. On 12 June, domestic travel including flights resumed with a health screening required before boarding. The borders remain closed to all tourists but Botswana citizens will be allowed to return and will have to quarantine upon arrival.
The country stopped approving foreign visas from countries that have been affected by coronavirus on 16 March.
The last update on pandemic regulations came out of Benin came in June, when restrictions began to ease. At the time bars, places of worship and public transportation were allowed to reopen. Students even returned to school in May.
Social distancing rules are in effect as citizens resume regular activity. Groups over 50 are not permitted and masks are required in public places.
Flights (though limited) are available into and out of Benin at this time. Passengers will have to be tested upon arrival at their own expense of $165 — paid in cash. Upon arrival, travellers will have to quarantine while waiting for their results.
Airports are still closed for international travel, but there are some repatriation flights to the U.S.
There is limited information about the conditions of coronavirus in Burkina Faso.
After months of criticism for not taking the pandemic seriously, Burundi has begun to mass test its citizens for coronavirus.
The government has transitioned administrations over the course of the pandemic, as the former president died of a reported heart attack. The new president, Evariste Ndayisimiye has called coronavirus “the worst enemy of Burundi'” and launched new safety measures in recent days.
Taxi drivers are asked to sanitize their vehicles and masks are required to be worn in hospitals. The government also lowered the cost of water and soap.
There have been mixed reports about how many cases have been confirmed in Burundi. All reports are under 400 cases but many officials and local doctors believe it is much higher.
According to the U.S. CDC, Cameroon has some of the highest coronavirus cases in all of Africa.
The borders still remain closed but a few international flights are available from Air France, Brussels Airways and Ethiopian Airways.
The country says they have the virus under control due to an increase in the number of recoveries. Schools reopened in June even though cases were still on the rise.
The reported number of cases stands close to 17,000, with 385 deaths.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The state of emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been extended until 30 July. The country is currently under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day.
Travellers are currently not permitted as international travel has not resumed. According to the U.S. Embassy, domestic travel may soon become a possibility.
The country is also facing another outbreak of Ebola and the measles while also dealing with coronavirus.
Côte d’Ivoire is still under a state of emergency through the end of July. However, international travel resumed with limited service as of 1 July. Land and maritime borders will remain closed until 30 July.
Travellers who do wish to visit Côte d’Ivoire will have to follow the protocol that’s become standard throughout the world. A 14-day quarantine will be imposed upon landing and they will have to fill out a travel declaration form. The country was previously considering the idea of having all travellers quarantine in one location but no announced has been made moving forward on the idea.
Restaurants are open as of March. Bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues are closed through the end of July in the Greater Abidjan area. Restrictions were already lifted in the rest of the country back in May. Face masks and social distancing are required when travelling through any public area and there are capacity limitations for venues.
Côte d’Ivoire has had 15,000 cases and 93 deaths
The East African country began to reopen its economy in early May.
“The stakes are high but there is no other option: people need to make their living and go to work”, said Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf.
Currently, the list of places open includes restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, places of worship and public transportation. In the coming days, hotels and entertainment venues are set to reopen as well.
September will see the reopening of event venues such as stadiums and schools. There is also a possibility for international travel to restart. All borders will remain closed until September when the situation will be reevaluated.
In mid-June, Equatorial Guniea began to loosen the restrictions present in the country.
The first things to open were hotels and the food industry. The opening of bars, clubs and entertainment venues remains unannounced.
Travellers to Equatorial Guniea will have to submit a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before arrival. Those who do not have a test will be quarantined by the government and tested at their own expense.
There was previously a discrepancy over the number of cases the country experienced however as of July is reported to be over 3,000 cases and 51 deaths.
International tourism has resumed in Egypt as of 1 July. The first day saw a few flights come in bringing tourists from countries such as Ukraine. The Great Pyramids of Giza also reopened on 1 July after being closed since March, reported Reuters. The pyramids underwent a deep cleaning of all paths and touchpoints earlier this summer.
Hotels opened to domestic tourists in May under the strict condition that they cannot operate at more than 25% capacity until the end of May; that increased to 50% capacity on 1 June. Reuters also reported that hotels must implement new health measures, there must be a clinic with a resident doctor to regularly screen temperatures and disinfectant equipment must be installed, among other precautionary measures.
The health minister has indicated that Red Sea resorts, including in South Sinai, will be the first to open along with beaches west of Alexandria. It’s been estimated that Egypt has and will continue to lose 1 billion tourism dollars for each month that it’s closed.
There have been limited reports from Eritrea detailing the status of the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
The local embassy reports that essential businesses are the only open until 8 p.m. and all other businesses are closed. Public transportation has not resumed operation and there is limited allowance for citizens to be outside.
There have been 251 cases reported.
As of late June, the lockdown in Eswatini has been extended indefinitely. The only things open are essentials such as grocery stores. Land and air borders remain closed for the time being.
As of 1 July many pandemic measures have been lifted in Gabon.
Restaurants with outdoor dining and hotels have reopened. Even schools have resumed classes for certain age groups. Social distancing and masks are mandated at all times.
Travellers are being permitted into Gabon by air. Flights are sparse but available. Land and sea borders are closed however domestic travel is allowed through these methods.
All of Ghana’s borders are closed with no announced date of reopening. Citizens are being allowed back into the country but will have to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive.
The state of emergency in Guinea has been extended through 31 August as cases continue to rise. There is currently a curfew enacted from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Bars, churches, mosques, schools and entertainment venues have been closed. Some places of worship can reopen in the county has no reported cases for 30 days. Markets and grocery stores are open, but close at 6 p.m. daily.
Social gatherings are limited to 20 people and there are limitations to the number of people that can be in vehicles.
Anyone who wishes to travel in or out of the country must provide a negative PCR test taken within seven days before departure/arrival. They must also have three masks to travel with. If flying into Guinea, travellers will be retested and quarantined until results are received. Those who test negative will have to report their temperature to the government for 14 days.
Kenya announced that on 7 July that it is beginning the first phase of reopening. President Uhuru Kenyatta says the country has reached enough preparedness to lessen restrictions but precautions should still be taken, reports Reuters.
Under the reopening plan travel in and out of Nairobi was allowed and general domestic travel was set to begin on 15 July. International travel will begin 1 August. Mosques can open for an hour with 100 visitors.
“In the next 21 days we shall study patterns of interactions and the spread of the disease. Any trends that signal a worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to lockdown”, said Kenyatta.
The number of coronavirus cases was on the rise in late June, prompting the president to extend the state of emergency for 30 days.
Fifteen counties have been quarantined so far and a curfew of 6 p.m. is in effect.
Flights resumed on 28 June under new guidelines. Passangers will have to bring a negative PCR test or do a rapid test at the airport. Those getting on flights out of Liberia will have to arrive to the airport four hours early. Only those with tickets will be allowed inside the airport.
Madagascar is still under very strict guidelines due to the pandemic. On 5 July, the government tightened the restrictions to limit social gatherings even more.
Restaurants and bars are closed in the country and the few public places that are open require temperature checks, social distancing and hand washing. All sports, cultural events and religious services are cancelled.
Even transportation is being tightly monitored. Residents are only allowed out for essentials with personal cars until 2 p.m. Essential businesses are only allowed to operate until 12 p.m. Taxis can only operate if they are transporting people who have health-related business.
To make sure all rules are followed, Madagascar is imposing consequences such as community service for people who do not wear masks or face coverings.
This aspirational vacation destination has been heavily affected by coronavirus shutdowns. Travellers had not been permitted since the Maldives suspended all visas on arrival until further notice back on 27 March.
But that all changed in early June when the country threw out limited tourism efforts and threw open the doors to all tourism as of 1 July.
There will be no quarantine or testing requirements.
The island nation was under lockdown from 20 March to 15 June when the restrictions were fully lifted. The tourism department announced that the nation is now coronavirus free and they are beginning to form a plan around opening borders. A date has yet to be set.
Related: Planning a dream trip to Mauritius
Morocco partially reopened its borders on 14 July to allow citizens to return to the country and foreign citizens to leave. The country had one of the strictest lockdowns that left Moroccan citizens trapped outside of the country and foreign citizens trapped inside.
Flights will take place through Royal Air Maroc and Air Arabia. Anyone returning to Morocco will have to provide negative PRC and serological test taken 48 hours before entering the country. Ferries will be available to bring citizens back to Morocco from some countries and they will have the option to take a test on board.
Mosques reopened 15 July however there is no word of when churches or synagogues can resume operations.
To help fight coronavirus, Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones for surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.
Mozambique has had a smaller number of cases than other African countries, with 1,536 cases and 11 deaths. Even still, the country has extended its state of emergency until 29 July to contain the situation.
There are no international flight in or out of the country, but all visas have been extended until 30 September. Public transportation is open in the country but face masks are required.
Entertainment venues, bars, gyms and pools are all closed. Recreational and cultural activities are banned in public places. Beaches are closed nationwide unless they are being used for exercise. Places of worship are also closed and religious services cancelled.
Namibia entered its fourth phase of a five-phase reopening plan on 30 June. Phase four aims to begin reopening the stalled tourism industry.
Tourists from “a carefully selected low-risk market” will be permitted in the country to help restart the industry, reports Reuters.
Under the new restrictions, public gatherings can increase to 250 people, sporting events are allowed with occupancy limitations and casinos will open for pre-registered guests. Prior stages allowed domestic travel to resume and businesses to reopen under new health measures, including shopping malls, retail stores, restaurants, hairdressers and barbers.
This phase is expected to last until September when the government will reassess and potentially enter the fifth phase. The final phase will allow for air travel to resume and the border to reopen.
The state of emergency in Niger isn’t ending anytime soon as the government extended it another three months starting 12 July.
Places have begun to reopen in the country including restaurants, retail stores, markets and places of worship — all with new sanitary guidelines. Schools have also reopened as of 1 June. Masks or face coverings are required in all public areas.
A previous curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. has now been lifted.
It was announced that international travel will resume as of 1 August. Travellers will have to bring a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours before arrival. They will also be administered a rapid test on arrival and urged to quarantine.
Nigeria reopened its airports on 8 July after months of closure. Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports have all reopened as of 11 July. International travel has not been given a date to resume.
The country is under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m daily. Gatherings are limited to 20 people and face masks are mandatory.
Rwanda reopened to the world on 17 June; however commercial flights will not begin again until 1 August.
Anyone wishing to visit will have to produce a negative RT-PCR test that was taken 72 hours before arriving. Once you land you will have to remain quarantined in your hotel until a second PCR test taken in Rwanda is given back to you 24 hours after arrival. Rwanda is also offering visas on arrival for citizens of all countries.
All national parks in the country are open, but visitors will have to test negative for coronavirus 19-48 hours before visiting.
São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe released a three-phase plan for reopening the country beginning in June.
The country is currently in phase three which runs from 16-30 July. Restaurants and cafes can reopen at half capacity. Churches, meetings and lectures will also follow the same capacity guidelines. Markets will open for limited hours of 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Hotels, short term rentals, casinos, museums, theatres and exhibits can reopen under new guidelines. Gyms and recreational activities are able to reopen under this phase. Bars and clubs remain closed for the time.
Phase three also allows for international travel to resume. Travellers will have to provide a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival to enter the country.
Senegal resumed international flights on 15 July. Visitors will have to provide a negative PCR test taken up to seven days before arrival. Land and sea borders still remain closed. The only travellers not allowed into Senegal are those who come from countries that have banned Senegalese people from entering.
“Today, to come to Senegal, we demand strict compliance with border measures, namely the wearing of masks. Everybody wears a mask, you have the physical distance, even at the seats where you rest. We have alcohol-based gels everywhere, even at the ATMs”, said Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, the country’s general director of public Health.
Senegal has reported more than 9,400 cases of coronavirus and 182 deaths.
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in Africa. During the pandemic, conditions have only worsened and doctors have gone on strike due to not having enough PPE or receiving promised bonus payments.
The country is still under a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. However, things have begun to reopen. Churches and mosques have resumed operations as of 13 July. Public transportation restarted with a limit on how many passengers can be aboard.
Land and sea borders are still closed but commercial flight began again on 22 July.
There have been close to 1,600 cases reported and 63 deaths although the number may be higher as doctors claim less people have been admitted to hospitals since they went on strike.
The Seychelles is going to extremes to protect itself from coronavirus. TPG cruise reporter Gene Sloan writes about the small island nation off the coast of Africa banning cruise ships until 2022.
Sloan writes, “The Seychelles has fared well so far during the global outbreak of the new coronavirus, with an initial wave of just 11 cases and no deaths. The country moved fast to ban cruise ship arrivals and shut its international airport after the first cases were discovered in mid-March”.
Beginning in June, foreigners will again be permitted to vacation in the Seychelles, but the government’s tourism ministry is only looking for “high-end” visitors for now, according to Seychelles Nation. It has reopened its airport as well.
“Only visitors travelling on private jets and chartered flights, and who will be heading off directly to remote island resorts, will be allowed in”, the outlet reported.
Visitors will not be allowed to leave their island resorts during their stay this month.
Commercial flights will begin again in July, but the government said it expects visitor numbers to be limited for a while even once they resume.
Tourists will be required to be tested for COVID-19 48 hours before they arrive, and will have to present proof of their lodging arrangements before being granted entry.
South Africa began to ease restrictions on 1 May after five weeks of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns that included a nightly curfew, limited exercise hours and a total ban on alcohol and tobacco sales. The eased restrictions will allow for more exercise time (three hours in the morning) and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, but only for delivery. Social distancing rules and masks in public will remain mandatory.
Discussions to reopen the country to some foreign tourists are ongoing. The tourism industry is pushing to reopen the country by September, but that timeline seems aggressive considering it has the most cases (more than 270,000 as of July 12) in all of Africa. The peak of the outbreak is expected sometime in August.
There are reports most international flights will not resume until 2021, but that timeline could be updated.
International travel is once again possible as of 13 July as restrictions loosen in Sudan. Domestic flights are still suspended.
The local curfew in Khartoum is active from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. During the day general travel is permitted.
Public transportation is even beginning to resume operations as of 8 July but only in Khartoum.
Travellers who arrive in Sudan will need a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. Some travellers may also be tested at the airport.
Tanzania is now accepting tourists under pre-COVID rules, with no quarantine conditions attached. The government is asking passengers to complete a Health Surveillance Form upon arrival, and all arriving travellers are “subjected to an intensive screening and where necessary COVID-19 rapid testing. Mask wearing and social distancing are also still in place for anyone planning a visit.
Tanzania has received a lot of criticism on how it has handled the coronavirus pandemic. The government hasn’t actively revealed data about infection rates or death. The president says that releasing the data was “causing panic”.
At the start of the pandemic, President John Magufuli declined to close churches, saying that the virus “cannot survive in the body of Christ — it will burn.” He also claimed Tanzania is free of coronavirus as of June due to prayer and the work of front line workers. He even celebrated citizens who weren’t wearing masks as a sign that people were no longer afraid and the virus was gone.
Schools in the country reopened at the end of June. Students will wear mask during the day except for physical exercise or if they have underlying conditions. Sanitizing and social distancing will be implemented.
Tanzania’s reported coronavirus cases are comparatively low, but experts say the toll is probably much higher.
Uganda has eased some of its lockdown restrictions, allowing some businesses including hardware shops, restaurants and wholesale stores to reopen.
Uganda has loosened some restrictions, allowing some businesses like hardware shops, restaurants and wholesale stores to reopen.
President Yoweri Museveni pushed back the reopening of schools in June though he did state in prior briefings that the virus was “tamed”, said Reuters.
Previously, the government imposed strict restrictions that included the closure of all but absolutely essential businesses, dusk-to-dawn curfews, and bans on both private and public vehicles. Transportation resumed in 33 districts, while others who have large refugee populations and are large hubs of transit on the border remained restricted.
The number of reported cases increased as public transportation in select districts opened in late June. The Ugandan president warned that the growing number was concerning as people who used public transportation could not trace their contacts.
Zambia has reopened its air borders as of late June as a way to rebuild the heavily impacted tourism sector.
When coronavirus first took the world by hold, Zambia went on a six-week lockdown. The country has begun to reopen restaurants, some entertainment venues and schools however large public gatherings are still banned.
Bars and nightclubs will also remain closed as the economy reopens.
As travellers begin to re-enter the country airports will have some preventative measures. There will be health screenings that will check a travellers temperature and require them to complete a health questionnaire. According to the latest guidance from the U.S. embassy in Zambia, the country is still requiring a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering.
Citizens in Zimbabwe are still urged to stay home as the virus continues to advance. The lockdown that began in March is still largely in effect.
All borders to the country are still closed to international travel. Zimbabwe nationals can return home but will face a 21-day quarantine.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently announced that a curfew would be implemented and consequences would be put in place for those who ignore it.
Zimbabwe has had over 2,100 cases and 28 deaths.
Featured image by Getty Images
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