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Disaster Management Act – amendment and insertion of Regulations relating to COVID-19 and the lockdown period

March 26, 2020

The Department of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has published amended regulations and inserted new regulations relating to section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act in Notice 398 in Government Gazette 43148.

During the 21 day nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19, every person will be required to be confined to their place of residence, unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving, or chronic medical attention.

Gatherings are prohibited during the lockdown, except for funerals that will be limited to 50 people and will for the purpose of these regulations, not be regarded as a prohibited gathering. Provided that no night vigil is held and that all safety measures are strictly adhered to.

Movement between provinces, metropolitan and district areas is prohibited.

All businesses and other entities will be required to cease operations during the lockdown – except those that are involved in the manufacturing, supplying or provisioning of an essential goods or services.

Retail shops and shopping centres will be required to close. Except where essential goods are sold and on the condition that the person in control of the said store must put in place controls to ensure that customers keep a distance of at least one square meter from each other. All directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the exposure of persons to COVID-19 are adhered to. Retail shops selling essential goods will be prohibited to sell any other kind of goods. This may be changed by the designated Cabinet member, if necessary. 

Persons required to perform essential services during the lockdown must be duly designated in writing by the head of an institution, on a form that corresponds substantially with the form provided in the Notice. All persons performing essential services, obtaining essential goods or seeking medical attention may be subjected to screening for COVID-19 by an enforcement officer.

With regards to the country’s borders and tourists within the country, the borders are all closed during the lockdown, except for transportation of fuel and essential goods. Persons requiring emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition within South Africa may be allowed into the country with special permission from a designated Cabinet member. All foreign tourists who arrived in the country prior to, or after the lockdown, and who remain in the country, must remain in their temporary place of residence in the country for the duration of the lockdown or 14 days as the case may be. Tourists may be subject to screening for COVID-19 and be isolated or quarantine as required.

All forms of public transport is prohibited. This includes passenger rail services, bus services, taxi services, e-hailing services, maritime and air passenger transport – except bus services, taxi services, e-hailing services and private motor vehicles for the purpose of rendering essential services, obtaining essential goods, seeking medical attention, funeral services or to receive a payment of grants. Such vehicles are only allowed to carry 50% of the licensed capacity and all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the limitation of exposure of persons to COVID-19 are adhered to.

Any persons contravening these regulations shall be guilty of an offence and, on conviction, be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both.

Directions Issued With Respect To The Response To COVID-19 In The Co-Operative Governance And Traditional Affairs Sectors

Notice 399 in Gazette 43147 contains directions issued by the Department to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa. These Directions apply to all provinces, municipalities, and where indicated, institutions of Traditional Leadership.

The purpose of these directives is to direct municipalities and provinces in respect of the following matters:

  • Provision of water and sanitation services;
  • Hygiene education, communication and awareness;
  • Waste management, cleansing and sanitisation;
  • Municipal public spaces, facilities and offices;
  • Customary initiations and cultural practices;
  • Isolation and quarantine;
  • Monitoring and enforcement;
  • Municipal operations and governance;
  • Institutional arrangements and development of COVID-19 response plans; and
  • Precautionary measures to mitigate employee health and safety risks.

During the lockdown, municipalities are directed to ensure that communities are provided with the necessary means to prevent transmission, while preventing disruptions in services that are rendered through both municipal programmes and customer interaction. Municipalities are also directed to provide portable water and sanitation services to high population density settlements, rural communities and informal settlements.

All public spaces are to be closed immediately – this includes swimming pools, beaches, public parks, museums, libraries and markets. The issuing of permits for marches, protests and the handover of petitions are to be stopped.

These Directions will take effect on the date of signature and shall terminate on the date when the national state of disaster lapses or is terminated.