South Africa: final regulations for coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown published
The regulations published on 18 March 2020 in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (the “Act”) have been amended to regulate the lockdown announced by President Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020.
A new chapter 2 specifically dealing with the lockdown has been inserted into the regulations. We summarise below the most significant provisions contained in chapter 2.
Restriction on the movement of persons and goods
Regulation 11B contains far-reaching restrictions on the movement of persons and goods. The following are some of the more important aspects:
- Every person is confined to his or her place of residence unless it is strictly necessary to leave the residence for purposes of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving, or chronic medical attention. Annexure A to the regulations defines what constitutes essential goods. Annexure B defines essential services (see below).
- Every “gathering” is prohibited, except for funerals. A gathering is defined as any assembly, concourse or procession in or on any public road, as defined in the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 or any other building, place or premises, including wholly or partly in the open air, and including, but not limited to, any premises or place used for any sporting, entertainment, funeral, recreational, religious, or cultural purposes.
- Movement between provinces is prohibited.
- Movement between the metropolitan and district areas is prohibited.
- Any person who fails to comply with the above prescriptions commits a criminal offence and, on conviction, will be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
- All borders of South Africa will be closed except for the transportation of fuel and essential goods. However, permission may be granted to a person to enter South Africa for medical attention for a life-threatening condition. Foreign tourists who have remained in South Africa must remain in their places of temporary residence. They may be subjected to screening for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and be quarantined or isolated.
Regulation 11B also provides for the closure of businesses and premises:
- All businesses and other entities must cease operations during the lockdown, except for businesses or entities involved in the manufacturing, supply, or provision of an essential good or service.
- Retail shops and shopping malls must be closed, except where essential goods are sold and on condition that the person in control puts in place controls to ensure that customers keep a distance of at least one square meter from each other and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the exposure of persons to COVID-19 are adhered to.
- A retail store selling essential goods is prohibited from selling any other goods.
- Any place not involved in the provision of an essential good or service must remain closed to all persons for the duration of the lockdown
- Annexure D (see below) to the regulations contains an extensive list of places and premises that must be closed to the public except to those persons rendering security and maintenance services at those places or premises. Any person who fails to comply with this requirement commits a criminal offence and, on conviction, will be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The regulations also place important obligations on the heads of “institutions” that are engaged in the supply or distribution of an essential good or service.
- The head must determine the essential services to be performed by his or her institution and must determine the essential staff who will perform those services. This function can be delegated.
- The head must designate persons performing essential services in writing. A specific form is prescribed in this regard.
- All persons performing essential services, obtaining essential goods or seeking medical attention, may be subjected to screening for COVID-19 by an enforcement officer.
Prohibition of public transport
- Regulation 11C provides extensive restrictions on the provision of public transport. These include the following:
- All commuter transport services including passenger rail services, bus services, taxi services, e-hailing services, maritime and air passenger transport are prohibited, save for bus services, taxi services, e-hailing services and private motor vehicles used to render essential services, obtain essential goods, seek medical attention, funeral services and the receipt of grants. However, any such vehicle must carry no more than 50% of its licensed capacity and all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the limitation of exposure of persons to COVID-19, must be adhered to.
- If a person rendering essential services is unable to travel to and from his or her place of employment, the employer must make the necessary transport arrangements.
Resources of the State during lockdown
- A person who refuses to be evacuated from any place subject to lockdown may be evacuated by an enforcement officer to a temporary shelter, if such action is necessary for the preservation of life.
- The State must identify temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards for homeless people as well as temporary sites for quarantine and self-isolation that meet the necessary hygiene standards for people who cannot isolate or quarantine in their homes.
Annexure B provides definitions as to what constitutes essential goods and essential services.
“Essential goods” are broadly defined as:
- Any food product (including animal food and non-alcoholic beverages);
- The chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any food product;
- Cleaning and hygiene products including the chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of these goods;
- Medical and hospital supplies and the chemicals and packaging used in the production thereof;
- Fuel, including coal and gas; and
- Basic goods, including airtime and electricity.
“Essential services” include the existing essential services as defined in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, as well as.
- Medical, health, laboratory and medical services;
- Disaster management, fire prevention, firefighting and emergency services;
- Financial services necessary to maintain the functioning of the banking and payments environment, including the JSE and similar exchanges, as well as insurance services;
- Production and sale of essential goods;
- Grocery stores, including spaza shops;
- Electricity, water, gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance;
- Essential municipal services;
- Care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, the mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick, and children;
- Funeral services, including mortuaries;
- Wildlife management, anti-poaching, animal care and veterinary services;
- Newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunications infrastructure and services;
- Production and sale of any chemicals, hygiene products, and pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector;
- Cleaning, sanitation, sewerage, waste and refuse removal services;
- Services related to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services;
- Essential SARS services defined by the Commissioner of SARS;
- Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials and traffic management services;
- Postal services and courier services related to the transport of medical products;
- Private security services;
- Gold, gold refinery, coal and essential mining;
- Accommodation used for persons rendering essential services, quarantine, isolation and the lockdown;
- Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment;
- Transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods, and transportation of patients; and
- Transport and logistics in respect of essential goods as set out in A above to neighbouring countries.
The following places and premises are closed to the public:
- Any place or premises normally open to the public where religious, cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational, exhibitional, organisational or similar activities may take place;
- Any place or premises normally open to the public where goods other than essential goods are procured, acquired, disposed of or sold; and
- any place or premises normally open to the public such as:
- public parks, beaches and swimming pools;
- flea markets;
- open-air food markets;
- fetes and bazaars;
- night clubs;
- hotels, lodges and guest houses, except to the extent that they are required for remaining tourists confined to hotels, lodges and guest houses;
- private and public game reserves except to the extent that they are required for remaining tourists confined to private and public game reserves;
- holiday resorts except to the extent that they are required for remaining tourists confined to such holiday resort;
- on-consumption premises, including taverns, shebeens, and shisanyama where liquor is sold;
- off-consumption premises, including bottle stores, where liquor is sold;
- off-consumption areas in supermarkets where liquor is sold;
- theatres and cinemas;
- shopping malls and centres (excluding grocery stores and pharmacies);
- taxi ranks, bus depots, train stations and airports; and
- any other place or premises determined by the Cabinet member responsible for cooperative governance and traditional affairs by direction in the Gazette.
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COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. The disease has since been reported in over 190 countries.
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