Measures tighten up in the centre of the storm as the national lockdown moves into the Adjusted Alert Level 3.
Due to a recent rapid rise in the number of coronavirus infections over the past weeks (nearly 190 000 new infections recorded since 1 January 2021), the National Government has officially extended the national lockdown with stringent regulations in an attempt to contain any further spread of the virus and its new variant, "the South African variant".
The Disaster Management Act latest amendment was gazetted by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr Dlamini-Zuma, and the amended regulations were officially announced by the President of the Republic, Cyril Ramaphosa, on 11 January 2021, and shall be effective until 15 February 2021.
The notable amendments on the latest regulations are as follows:
Curfew (Movement of persons)
With the festive season coming to an end and workplaces resuming operations, the movement of persons is now prohibited between 21H00 and 5H00 daily. An exception is made for persons who have been granted permission through directions issued by the relevant Cabinet member or a permit. which corresponds with Form 7 of Annexure A. to perform a service not related to any activity prohibited under the regulations, and/or persons attending to a security or medical emergency.
Establishments, indoors or outdoors, are still required to close by 20H00.
Public spaces protocols
Everyone is required to wear a face mask when they are in a public space, however this does not include children under the age of six years, and the failure to comply with instruction by an enforcement officer to wear a face mask constitute an offence.
No person is allowed to use, operate or perform any service on any public transport, for an example, persons driving minibuses, trains and Ubers, without a face mask. Entering or being at a public place or premises without a face mask is also prohibited and same applies for being at any public open space without a mask.
Employers are also required not to allow any employees to perform their duties or enter places of employment without wearing a face mask. Businesses are strictly required to adhere to all health protocols and social distancing measures and to adopt measures to promote same.
Attendance at funerals
The President specifically noted that funeral gatherings have been identified as so-called "super spreader moments" of the virus and has urged families to be considerate.
Attendance at funeral gatherings is still limited to a maximum of 50 persons, with persons observing a distance of at least one and half metre from one another. In smaller venues that are unable to accommodate a capacity of 50 persons, only 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used. The duration of the funeral gathering remains restricted to a maximum of 2 hours.
Every person attending a gathering must adhere to all health protocols and social distancing measures to limit their exposure; this includes workplace gatherings. The following gatherings are still prohibited: social gatherings; faith-based gatherings; political gatherings and traditional council gatherings.
Beaches, dams, lakes and rivers and recreational activities at these places in hotspot areas are closed to the public. The beaches that are open to the public in non-hotspot areas, such as in the Northern Cape shall only be opened between 06H00 and 19H00 and be monitored for compliance with all health protocols and social distancing measures. However, it must be noted that these restrictions do not apply to fishermen who are in a possession of permit or exempted in terms of the legislation, for fishing purposes.
Botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos that are open to the public shall only be opened between 09H00 and 18H00, subject to monitoring for compliance with all health protocols and social distancing measures. Game parks that are opened to the public shall only be opened between 06H00 and 19H00, and they are also subject to monitoring for compliance purposes.
Closure of Borders
The President also noted that the congestion at border posts due to the festive season coming to an end has exposed many people to the high risk of infection. As a result, all land ports of entry will be closed until 15 February 2021, excepts for ports of entry designated by the Minister of Home Affairs.
- The Minister of Home Affairs may allow the entry into and exit from the Republic through land ports of entry for the following:
- The transportation of fuel, cargo and goods;
- Emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition, with a proof of such treatment;
- The return of a:
- South African national;
- Permanent Resident;
- Person with a long-term residence visa;
- Spouse with a visa;
- Child or children with visas;
- Persons with a work visa; and
- Holder of a business visa,
to the Republic;
- For funeral purposes for family members in the first degree of kinship to the deceased person;
- The deportation of foreign nationals;
- The departure of a foreign national to his or her country of nationality or permanent resident;
- The departure of a South African national, or permanent resident to the Republic to his or her place of employment, study or residence, outside the Republic;
- Daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend school
in the Republic, and who are allowed entry and exit into and from
the Republic, subject to compliance with protocols relating to
- Screening for COVID-19 and quarantine or isolation, where necessary;
- Wearing of a cloth mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and the mount when in public space;
- Transportation; and
- Sanitation and social distancing measures; or
- Any other exception and conditions as may be determined by the relevant Minister.
Despite not being specifically referred to on the above sub-regulation, a person may apply for an emergency travel permit to the Minister of Home Affairs. An application must be made 7 working days before the date of intended travel and must be supported by, amongst other things: a demonstration of exceptional circumstances for the request to enter the Republic; the name of land port of entry to be used; number of days intended to stay and proof of accommodation.
International air travel is still restricted to the following airports: OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and Cape Town International Airport; and is permitted subject to the traveller providing a negative COVID-19 test certificate which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel. Failure to provide such certificate will result in a traveller being required to do an antigen test at their own cost and, if they test positive, they will be required to quarantine at their own cost.
Foreign nationals in the Republic with visas that have expired and were automatically extended to 31 January 2021, due to their inability to travel during lockdown, will have their visas automatically extended to 31 March 2021. Foreign tourists who arrived at the republic prior to the commencement of the new regulation, will have their visas extended to 31 March 2021.
Transportation of cargo
The transportation of cargo by rail, ocean and road transport is permitted for the movement of cargo to and from other countries and within the Republic.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.