Mashudu Netsianda / Thupeyo Muleya, Chronicle Reporters
ZIMBABWE’s borders remain closed to general human travel and the lockdown regulations as announced by the Government have not changed despite South Africa announcing the opening of its borders, including Beitbridge.
There was hype among the generality of Zimbabweans, particularly cross-border traders when South Africa announced the reopening of its borders, including Beitbridge Border Post, for tourists and travellers effective today.
South Africa announced that Beitbridge Border Post, which was part of the 18 inland ports of entry, which were partially operational, will be fully operational while 35 border posts currently closed will remain closed.
Zimbabwe and South Africa closed their borders to general human traffic, including Beitbridge Border Post, in March when they effected their first 21-day lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19. The closure of Beitbridge Border Post, the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa that is shared by Zimbabwe and South Africa, affected mostly Zimbabweans who relied on cross-border travel.
Government recently lifted the ban on domestic and international air travel. Domestic and foreign travel, which were banned on March 30 as Government imposed measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, are set to resume today. However, strict Covid-19 measures will be adhered to in the opening up of the aviation sector.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said only commercial traffic, diplomats and returning residents are allowed passage through the country’s borders.
He said Zimbabwe remains guided by the Public Health (Covid-19) Prevention, Containment and Treatment, Statutory Instrument 77 of 2020.
“We haven’t opened Beitbridge Border Post and other borders as yet. Our borders are open to commercial cargo, diplomats and returning residents. In fact, the regulations as stipulated by the current SIs still stand and the issue will be discussed in due course,” said Minister Kazembe.
A total of 9 331 Zimbabweans have between March and September returned by road via Beitbridge Border Post and put in various provincial quarantine and isolation centres countrywide.
Before the start of the lockdown in March, half a million people would use the port of entry to access South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In a statement, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) head of border operations, ports of entry and customs compliance, Mr Beyers Theron said upon arrival, a traveller will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure.
“Where a traveller has not done a Covid-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost for the period of 10 days. All travellers will be subjected to screening by Port Health officials upon arrival and departure,” he said.
Travellers detected with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat Covid-19 test is conducted at their own cost.
Mr Theron said all travellers will be subjected to screening by Port Health officials upon arrival and departure. Travellers will also be required to complete traveller health questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the port of entry.
Besides the health protocols, travellers will still be subjected to other formal border processes.
“All travellers should wear masks at all times whilst within the ports of entry-controlled area. Port officials are to ensure that port users adhere to social distancing as part of queue management protocol,” said Mr Theron.
Truck drivers are also required to present Covid-19 negative results upon departure from and arrival in South Africa.
For truck drivers, crew members and frequent travellers, the Covid-19 test results remain valid for 14 days after the first movement.