The novel coronavirus has cropped up in every country across Africa and the Middle East, with the largest outbreak centered in South Africa, where there have been over 1.5 million cases. Most countries responded to the virus by imposing strict lockdown procedures and travel bans, closing their borders to all except for returning citizens and permanent residents.
Although some countries in the Middle East and Africa, such as Egypt and Rwanda, are already welcoming back tourists, precautions are in place to detect and prevent the spread of the virus. Others are more cautiously keeping borders closed to everyone except citizens and residents. New variants discovered in the United Kingdom (UK), Brazil, and South Africa, which are reported to be more contagious, spurred harsher restrictions for passengers who have traveled through those areas.
Read on for a country-by-country listing of how some countries in Africa and the Middle East are handling border security, lockdowns, and more.
In November, Botswana allowed charter flights to the Okavango Delta, the country's premier tourist destination, to resume. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are allowed to enter, but they will need a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their flight to Botswana. A 10-day quarantine at a government-approved hotel is mandatory for any symptomatic traveler. Anyone traveling in close contact with someone who tests positive will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
Foreigners, including U.S. citizens, are allowed to enter Egypt so long as they can present proof of health insurance and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure time. Test results must be presented on paper and digital copies will not be accepted. Children under the age of six do not need to be tested. There is no requirement to quarantine upon entering Egypt unless you arrive without a negative test. In this case, you can get tested at the airport and must quarantine until the results come back negative.
Since March 2020, the Israeli government has barred travelers who are not Israeli citizens or permanent residents from entering the country. However, some exceptions can be made for non-nationals whose lives are based in Israel. Anyone over the age of two traveling to Israel will need a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours and must quarantine for 10 to 14 days with the option to test out after two negative tests. Proof of vaccination will also be accepted. The government plans to reopen tourism to vaccinated travelers in May.
Foreigners, including U.S. citizens, will be allowed to enter Kenya so long as they can present a negative PCR test, taken within 96 hours of arrival, and are not showing flu-like symptoms. U.S citizens will not be required to quarantine.
Morocco has suspended flights from many countries, but not the United States. Foreign nationals of visa-exempt countries, including the U.S., are allowed to enter Morocco as long as they have a reservation at a Moroccan hotel or are invited to do business by a Moroccan company. All travelers over the age of 12 will be required to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 (with printed results) hours of arrival and will undergo a health screening at the airport. There is no requirement to quarantine.
Mozambique is open for U.S. citizens and all travelers will need to show proof of a hotel reservation and return ticket to obtain a visa on arrival. However, it's strongly recommended that you obtain your visa in advance. Anyone over the age of 11 will also need a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure. There is no quarantine requirement.
Namibia's borders are open for tourists, including U.S. citizens, and commercial flights have resumed. Tourists entering Namibia will need to show a negative test taken within seven days before arriving. With a negative PCR or antigen test there is no requirement to quarantine, but arriving travelers may be screened for symptoms at the airport.
While Rwanda's land borders remain closed, international flights have resumed and foreigners, including U.S. citizens, are permitted to enter. All travelers must fill out the Passenger Locator Form and present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before their flight. When entering Rwanda, they will be required to quarantine, at their own expense, in a designated transit hotel while awaiting the result of another test taken upon arrival.
They will be allowed to leave when the test, which is supposed to take only 24 hours, comes back negative. Afterward, they should self-quarantine at home for seven days or they can extend the length of their stay in the quarantine hotel. Business travelers staying for less than seven days will not be required to do the seven-day quarantine. Travelers will also need another PCR test, taken within 72 hours before they leave Rwanda. Tests can be booked using the government's online platform.
South Africa is experiencing a second wave of the virus on top of the discovery of a new variant and direct flights between South Africa and the UK have been suspended. South Africa is open for international travel and is welcoming foreign tourists, including U.S. citizens. All travelers will need to show a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure. There is no need to quarantine if you can provide a negative test result. However, travelers will be screened on arrival and asked to download the COVID Alert South Africa app.
Anyone entering Tanzania will not need to show proof of a negative test, but travelers with symptoms may be tested on arrival and will need to fill in a Health Surveillance Form. There is no requirement to quarantine.
All travelers will need a negative PCR test to travel to Tunisia. Travelers should also complete, print, and sign the required questionnaire, which they will be required to show upon entering Tunisia. On arrival, they will also quarantine for 48 hours until they can produce another negative PCR test. Tunisia has indefinitely suspended all direct flights from the UK.
Uganda's borders are open and all foreign nationals are allowed to enter. Arriving passengers will need to present a negative PCR test taken within 120 hours of departing for Uganda and will be subject to a health screening upon arrival. When leaving Uganda, travelers must present another negative PCR test taken within 120 hours, even if the destination country doesn't require it. Travelers do not have to quarantine unless they are presenting symptoms, in which case they'll be transported to an isolation center.
United Arab Emirates
The borders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are open for tourism and flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi have operating. U.S. citizens, must show a negative PCR test before flying taken within 96 hours. Anyone who plans on staying for more than four days will be required to take another test on the fourth day of their trip, or they could be subject to fines. Quarantine requirements vary by Emirate. Travelers in Dubai do not need to quarantine if they have a negative test, but travelers in Abu Dhabi will be required to wear a GPS bracelet for 10 days.
U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Zimbabwe, but they must have a negative PCR test taken with 48 hours of departure. Alternatively, travelers can be tested upon arrival but will have to wait for the results in a government holding facility. Zimbabwean residents are required to quarantine, but visitors are not.
U.S. Embassy in Botswana. "COVID-19 Information." April 12, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Egypt. "COVID-19 Information." April 11, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Israel. "COVID-19 Information." April 7, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Kenya. "COVID-19 Information." April 8, 2021.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Morocco. "COVID-19 Information." April 14, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. "COVID-19 Information." April 8, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Namibia. "COVID-19 Information." April 13, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Rwanda. "COVID-19 Information." April 9, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: South Africa." March 27, 2021.
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in South Africa. "COVID-19 Information." April 8, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. "COVID-19 Information." April 8, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Tunisia. "Health Alert: Updated Tunisian COVID-19 Mitigation Measures." March 8, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Tunisia." March 12, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Uganda. "COVID-19 Information." April 6, 2021.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the United Arab Emirates. "COVID-19 Information." April 7, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe. "COVID-19 Information." April 13, 2021.