CORONAVIRUS: EFFORTS TO FLATTEN THE CURVE IN AFRICA

African state leaders have learned from the issues experienced in various countries around the world in minimising the spread of COVID-19 and in response have implemented measures to enforce social distancing and restrict travel in order flatten the curve of the virus on the African continent.

Below is a breakdown of African countries and the measures that they have implemented in response to curb the spread of the virus –

Angola

Effective from 27 March 2020 until 11 April 2020, President João Lourenço declared a nationwide lockdown. Lockdown has been extended again up until the 25 May 2020.  All airports, seaports, and land borders are closed for this period and furthermore, all international missions, and foreign visits by members of the administration are prohibited from travelling.

The Angolan Immigration Services, Serviço de Migração Extrangeira, has not ceased services to date. Foreigners can still attend the immigration services various locations to submit applications for visa extensions. Foreigners should take the appropriate precautions when attending these locations. However, immigration services is operating on skeleton staff, as such, delays in the processing of applications can be expected.

Botswana

Effective from 02 April 2020, the Botswanan government had declared a nationwide lockdown for a period of 28 days. Lockdown measures and restrictions were extended until May 14th2020. From May 15th, the country will proceed to phase 3 until the 22nd of May 2020.

The issuance of visa applications remain suspended until further notice and immigration restrictions are expected to remain until October 2020. All permits expiring will be treated as active until flight suspensions continue.

Ghana

Effective from 30 March 2020, the entire Accra and some other locations in Ghana that are considered to be COVID-19 hotspots were on lockdown for a period of 14 days. All are required to stay at home with a few exceptions. Currently, lockdown regulations have been eased in major cities with immigration departments reopening.

Ghana Immigration Services is accepting new applications for work permits, however, visas on arrivals and new visa applications filed abroad remain suspended until further notice.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Effective from 28 March 2020, Kinshasa has gone into a rotational-based lockdown for a period of four days, following two days of free access for residents to go to essential shop. The period of lockdown continued for a period of three weeks. The government extended the state of emergency until the 23rd of May .

During this time, there are limited immigration services available, but foreigners can continue to submit applications for to the Department of Migration Services during this period. A delay in processing times is to be expected as the department will be running on skeleton staff.

Mozambique

From the 1st of May 2020 the President extended the state of emergency announced on the 1st of April 2020 up until the 30th of May 2020. Public and private institutions shall remain in operation with a skeleton staff reduced to no more than 1/3.

The Department of Immigration remains closed and those with temporary visas expiring or due to expire in-country remain valid and effective until 30 June 2020. The Labour Directorate in Mozambique remains open and processing applications, however, at a slower rate due to skeleton staff.

Namibia

President Geingob declared a partial lockdown in two regions in Namibia, Khomas and Erongo, from 27 March until 17 April, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Namibia is on Level 4 lockdown until 2nd of June. All borders remain closed with some upliftment of restrictions.

The Department of Home Affairs is processing applications for extensions of visas in-country and employment applications. New visa applications are pending the upliftment of travel bans and borders re-opening.

Kenya

Effective Friday, 7 May 2020 the President Kenyatta extended the curfew for 15 more days until the 22 May 2020. This followed the initial curfew which was put in place from the 27th of March 2020 by the President for a period of 30 days. From 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. all movement shall be prohibited unless by persons authorized to do so such as medical professionals, health workers, critical and essential service providers. The president

During this period, the Kenya Immigration Services is attending to urgent issues only as a response to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya and other immigration services limited until further notice.

Nigeria

Effective 30th of March 2020, the Nigerian government declared a lockdown in major economic hubs of Abuja and Lagos which continued until 04 May 2020. Currently, lockdown regulations have been eased in major cities.

Long-term and short-term visa renewal applications are being processed at a slower rate due to the availability of minimum services. The issuance of visas-on arrival, temporary work permits remain suspended until further notice. All travel remains suspended for Nigerian nationals and foreign residents until the 6th of June 2020.

Tanzania

Effective 23rd March 2020, the Tanzanian government-imposed travel restrictions to help curb the spread of Covid-19. All travellers whether foreigners or returning residents arriving from COVID-19 most affected countries, will be subjected to mandatory isolation for 14 days at their own cost at designated facilities identified by the Government. Furthermore, lockdown has been extended until the 30thof May as well as the restriction of movement.

The Department of Immigration in Tanzania has not ceased to provide its standard services to foreign travellers in Tanzania. Visa extensions have been granted automatically for a period of 3 months for those unable to travel to Tanzania due to the suspension of flights. Also, those that are in-country have been granted extension of visas for a period of one month.

Senegal

Effective 13 May 2020 Senegal eases its COVID 19 restrictions following the following the curfew that was imposed on the 23 of March 2020, by the Senegalese President Macky Sally. From 12 May 2020, coronavirus restrictions will begin to ease in Senegal with a curfew from 21:00 to 05:00 and limited opening hours for local businesses.

Land, sea and air borders are closed including the suspension of flights in and out of Senegal until the 3rd of June 2020.

The issuance of visas has been suspended until 03 June 2020, furthermore, applications submitted and processed abroad have also been suspended for all visa types.

Ivory Coast

Effective 26 March 2020 the Ivorian government closed all land and sea borders and suspended all international commercial flights. A dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed on the entire population in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. From 15 May 2020, the Ivorian government will lift the curfew in Abidjan, however, some establishments will remain closed until further notice.

Foreign nationals remain banned from entry into the Ivory Coast as borders remain closed.

Zambia

Effective 25th of March 2020, the Zambian Government a partial lockdown until further notice, with Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwean borders closed but others remain open.

Zambian immigration services continue to process online applications.

Lesotho

Effective Monday the 30th of March Lesotho remains under lockdown for 21 days. All the borders with South Africa will be closed, though the supply of goods will not be disrupted. Currently, Lesotho has started to uplift restrictions and immigration departments are accepting applications for work permits including adjudication and approval thereof.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is currently not under lockdown following the 3-day lockdown which they held and expired on the 5th of May subject to evaluation of the situation. All borders remain closed and travel restrictions continue as all flights into and out of Sierra Leone are suspended until further notice.

The Labour and Immigration Departments continue to be closed to new and renewal applications for work and residence permits until further notice.

Equatorial Guinea

On Friday, March 13, Equatorial Guinea announced the closure of its land borders with Cameroon and Gabon, the suspension of all commercial international flights, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for individuals arriving from any country affected by the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), regardless of their state of health. Flights into and out of Equatorial Guinea remain suspended.

All immigration applications submitted outside of Equatorial Guinea are currently suspended as well as in-country applications.

Tunisia

On the 20th March 2020 the Tunisian President Kais Saie ordered a lockdown of the country. The lockdown has been put in place to decrease the spread of the coronavirus, following the country’s first death from the virus. Citizens are instructed to stay home and movement between Tunisian cities has been restricted. In a later statement, the Tunisian government advised that the lockdown would come into force on March 22 and last until April 4.

Currently, Tunisia has started to reopen government departments with skeleton staff. Furthermore, Labour has resumed processing and adjudication of new applications. However, entry into Tunisia remains restricted to Tunisian nationals and permanent residents of Tunisia.

AUTHOR


Nkosikhona Nkala

Immigration Specialist

Coronavirus Efforts to Flatten the curve in Africa

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