- The relaxation of the regulations now means, the wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory.
- The announcement by Prime Minster, follows a similar one made by the South African Minister of Health Joe Phaahla on June 22,2022
Mbabane-The government of Eswatini has taken the decision to de-escalate the COVID 19 restrictions from the acute emergency phase with effect from July 18, 2022. This means that the country will now be at the Adjusted Level 0 for the first time since the COVID 19 regulations were put into effect in 2020.
Announcing the decision, Prime Minister, Cleopas Dlamini observed that recently, there has been a reduction in the number of cases and deaths due to COVID 19. However, he cautioned the public to remain vigilant as there may be infections that may arise due to new variants.
Dlamini said “the nation will continue to be updated on the COVID 19 situation on a regular basis to assist it in taking appropriate decisions to protect itself.” The relaxation of the regulations now means, the wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory.
In terms of travellers at the ports of entry into the country, visitors and returning residents will be required to be fully vaccinated. For fully vaccinated people entering the country, a negative PCR test result is not required.
Although the COVID 19 Regulations have been relaxed, the nation is urged to continue to look out for one another. Prime Minister further urged emaSwati to vaccinate as data has shown that vaccination prevents severe illness, hospitalisation and death among people infected with COVID 19.
The announcement by Prime Minster Cleopas Dlamnini, follows a similar one made by the South African Minister of Health Joe Phaahla on June 22,2022. Phaahla gazetted a notice that scrapped the compulsory wearing of face masks indoors and in public settings, limits on gatherings and border checks for travellers.
The regulations had required that any person entering the South Africa be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, people needed to produce a valid certificate of a negative PCR COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours before the date of departure.
Following the removal of the restrictions, these requirements will no longer be required.
The scrapping of some Covid-19 regulations, including wearing face masks, will boost growth in the tourism sector, as travellers will be able to participate in more activities, including attending big events and gatherings that not only contribute to our country’s appeal but also to our economy
Events are a key driver of domestic travel. In 2022 we have already seen two large music festivals in Eswatini. The first being the infamous Bush Fire festival which always draws a large number of international artists and audiences.
The second large music festival with international appeal was the Epic Gig that was also hosted in Malkerns barely three weeks after the Bush Fire festival.
Needless to say, once inside the venue there was little sign of the basic Covid regulations being adhered to. There was no social distancing and there was no way of ascertaining whether the venue was at full or at half capacity.
The lifting of limits on gatherings will give a much-needed boost to the business events sector and will allow the hosting of bigger events and welcome more delegates to the country.
Doing away with the requirement of a PCR test and vaccination certificate for all arrivals will reduce the cost and administrative burden of travelling.
The Chief Executive Officer of the African Tourism Board in Eswatini, Sandile Magongo welcomed the decision by the South African government to repeal Covid restrictions saying “we look forward to the same decision being taken by the government of Eswatini. The tourism industry was the hardest hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic and the sooner the restrictions are lifted the quicker we will see its recovery.
“We will be having our annual Umhlanga ceremony very soon, national events such as this one always draw a large number of tourists to the country and as soon as tourists can get access to them then the industry will be well on its way to full recovery.”
Covid restrictions starting with a nationwide lockdown were announced in March 2020. Four full waves of the pandemic then ensued with the first 3 waves causing devastation with a loss of lives across all sectors of society including health workers.
Disruptions of social and economic life have been huge most painful being families unable to visit loved ones who were seriously ill in hospital and for those who passed away, being buried under strict conditions. On the economic side, major losses of jobs and closure of several business especially the Small Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMME) but even big hotels, airlines etc.