July 23, 2024


Obey Your Travel.

Is There A Level 3 Lockdown On Coronavirus Travel?

5 min read

If planning any travel or are just curious about what is open around the world, it may be helpful to note that each country has different lockdown measures. Having multiple tiers is common, with a “Level 3 lockdown” being one of the highest steps. Here is what a Level 3 lockdown means for travel.

What Is A Level 3 Lockdown?

Nations have different grading systems to determine what activities are permissible during the pandemic. Most, if not all, systems have a third level.

The United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand have some of the most well-known Level 3 lockdown policies. The United States also has a level 3 travel advisory.

South Africa Level 3 Lockdown

South Africa currently has the most well-known Level 3 lockdown policies as the country is a hotspot for a mutant strain of the coronavirus.

The good news is that the South African government has five levels. Level 3 is the middle of the lockdown tiers. A Level 5 lockdown is the highest tier.

The nation went into Level 3 restrictions on December 28, 2020, and has had some effects on travel.

South Africa Level 3 Lockdown Travel Restrictions

South Africa allows some international travel and domestic travel during a Level 3 lockdown. International travel to and from South Africa is available for essential and non-essential reasons. But there are some guidelines to abide by.

Pre-Travel Diagnostic Test for International Travel

Those wanting to travel abroad or enter South Africa must take a pre-travel diagnostic test within 72 hours before travel starts. Those who don’t take a pre-travel test must take an antigen test at their own expense upon arrival in South Africa.

Travelers that test positive must quarantine at their own expense. These rules can also apply to daily commuters with permission to teach or attend school in South Africa.

Restricted Airports for International Flights

International flights in South Africa are restricted to these airports:

  • OR Tambo International Airport
  • King Shaka International Airport
  • Cape Town International Airport

The commercial seaports remain open along with 18 of the 52 land border crossings. Visas will process at the direction of the government.

Reduced Public Transit Capacity

Bus and taxi services can only carry up to 70 percent of licensed capacity for long-distance travel. This travel distance is for journeys longer than 200 kilometers (124 miles). These services can operate at full capacity for shorter trips.

Nightly Curfew

In South Africa, there is a nationwide nightly curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am. People can get permission to waive the curfew from a local Cabinet member except in designated hotspots.

These businesses also close at 8 pm daily during a Level 3 lockdown:

  • Cinemas
  • Theaters
  • Casinos
  • Museums, galleries and archives
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Restaurants
  • Venues hosting auctions
  • Venues hosting professional sports

While South Africa’s Level 3 restrictions are not a “total lockdown,” non-essential travel can be difficult.

United Kingdom Lockdown

The United Kingdom is under a national lockdown, but each country has its own lockdown tiers and rules.

Much of the UK is under “Tier 4” restrictions since the lockdown began in early January. During this time, people are only allowed to travel and leave home for essential reasons. Prior to the third lockdown, much of the UK was in level 3.

Most inbound travelers may have to self-isolate for up to 10 days, even with a negative result. There are exceptions for travel between select “safe travel corridors.” Travelers should plan on taking a pre-travel diagnostic test and take a follow-up test after arriving.

Scotland Lockdown

While much of the UK is above the Level 3 advisory for the near future, some Scottish isles are still in Level 3 status. Level 4 is the highest tier in Scotland.

Most of Scotland increased to Level 4 on January 5, 2021. These areas are still on Level 3:

  • Orkney
  • Shetland
  • Na h-Eileanen Siar (Western Isles)
  • Select islands within Argyll and Bute
  • All islands in Highland (except for Skye)

Under the Level 3 or Level 4 lockdown measures, only essential travel is permitted in or out of the region.

United States Level 3 Advisory

While the United States hasn’t implemented a nationwide lockdown like much of the world, the U.S. government agencies have a level 3 travel advisory.

U.S. citizens can travel abroad, but they must abide by the destination country’s travel restrictions. In some cases, U.S. citizens cannot enter certain countries unless traveling for essential reasons.

U.S. State Department Travel Advisory

Travelers can also reference the U.S. State Department travel advisories to see the latest restrictions. There are four different travel advisor tiers, with “Level 4: Do Not Travel” being the highest. Most countries currently have a “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” advisory.

While the U.S. State Department may only assign Level 3 advisory that strongly discourages travel, the destination country may prohibit non-essential travel. Much of continental Europe and Asia is a prime example.

CDC Travel Advisory Levels

Also checking the CDC travel recommendations is a good idea to determine the current transmission risk of COVID-19.

There are four different risk levels:

  • Very high: Level 4
  • High: Level 3
  • Moderate: Level 2
  • Low: Level 1

Much of the world is in Level 4 including Mexico and several Caribbean islands that accept American travelers. As of January 7, 2021, two island nations have a Level 3 warning—Saint Barthelemy and Saint Lucia.

In order to enter Saint Lucia, for instance, all travelers age 5 or older must take a pre-travel test within 7 days of arrival. All adults age 18 or older will complete a traveler health form. After completing the initial health screening, travelers will transfer to their approved lodging or quarantine location by a certified taxi.

Some Caribbean islands currently have a Level 2 or Level 1 risk level. But a low-risk level doesn’t automatically grant travel. Tourists may have to download a contact tracing app and stay within a “resort bubble” for their stay, making leisure travel more difficult.

United States Regional Lockdowns

The individual states don’t have a multi-level lockdown system like foreign nations. But, several states have similar statewide and regional lockdown measures.

Some states have a mandatory self-quarantine for incoming visitors and returning residents:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine

The city of Chicago has a mandatory quarantine or diagnostic testing for those arriving from high-risk areas. Some states allow pre-travel testing to waive all or part of the mandatory quarantine. In some cases, travelers from bordering states can enter without having to isolate.


Most of the world is in Level 3 lockdown or has a similar metric. For the coming weeks and months, long-distance travel is mostly for essential reasons. Non-essential travel is possible in some low-risk areas, but expect business and occupancy restrictions.


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