Covid vaccine headache certificate for South Africa

While South Africans can use Covid vaccine certificates to enter buildings, attend events and host rallies, its validity outside the country is still limited, says health minister Joe Phaahla.

Responding to a recent parliamentary question and answer session, Phaahla noted that this also applies to people traveling to South Africa, with no general international standard being accepted for vaccine certificates.

“Countries generally do not provide mechanisms for vaccination verification in other countries, other than their trade blocs such as in the European Union. It is not possible for South Africa to verify vaccination certificates from other countries,” he said.

“Even the QR codes of most countries are not readable outside their own countries. This is for security reasons and to prevent fraud “.

To accept vaccination certificates from other countries, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has taken responsibility for reciprocal negotiations for acceptance of vaccination certificates through individual countries’ embassies, Phaahla said.

This will allow for the acceptance of South African vaccination certificates by foreign countries and in exchange for the acceptance of vaccination certificates from foreign countries within South Africa, he said.

“Where people are facing difficulties with regards to entering another country and South African vaccination certificates against Covid-19 are being questioned, this is handled through embassies on a case-by-case basis.

“There are no common international standards for the development of the Covid-19 vaccination certificate or its technological use cases. This is an ever-changing environment within the specific policies of different countries or regions. “

This means it is difficult to provide a time frame in which foreign verification of vaccine passports will be available, he said.

Travel rules

Phaahla published the updated regulations on Covid-19 on Wednesday evening (May 4), easing the requirements for travelers wishing to enter the country.

Travel to South Africa is permitted provided that:

  • Fully vaccinated persons must, upon arrival at the land border, produce a valid vaccination certificate; Other
  • Non-vaccinated persons must, upon arrival, provide a valid negative Covid-19 test certificate, recognized by the World Health Organization, obtained no later than 72 hours before the travel date. They can also produce a negative antigen test provided it was not done 48 hours prior to travel or a certificate showing they have tested positive for Covid within the past 90 days.

Travelers leaving South Africa must continue to comply with the requirements of the country of destination.

Although these updated rules have been welcomed by the travel industry, regulations restricting gatherings in the country have been criticized as event planners are unable to organize large events that could further attract tourists.

Rosemary Anderson, president of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa), noted that these collection limits mean that many of the international events typically hosted in South Africa are not yet viable. She added that the government’s lack of certainty means it is difficult to organize medium- and long-term events, with the industry continuing to get lost.

According to current legislation, all gatherings are allowed at 50% of the seat capacity:

  • Provided that people are fully vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination certificate; or
  • Not vaccinated but in possession of a valid negative Covid-19 certificate obtained no later than 72 hours before the date of the meeting.

Alternatively, gatherings are allowed for unvaccinated and untested, but are limited to 1,000 people or fewer for indoor locations and 2,000 people or less for outdoor locations.


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