Law

As the impending 21-day lockdown approaches, new regulations were published on 25 March 2020 in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act No. 57 of 2002 (“the Act”), to supplement the existing regulations published on 18 March 2020 in terms of the same Act and to cater specifically for the conditions of lockdown (“lockdown regulations”).

The lockdown regulations will take effect at 24h00 on 26 March 2020 and will apply until 24h00 on 16 April 2020, or on such other date as determined by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The lockdown regulations provide the following:

1. Prohibition on refusal of consent to medical examinations and treatments, quarantine or isolation

No person who is a patient presenting with clinical signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by an approved laboratory diagnostic method, or who is suspected of having contracted COVID-19, or who has been in contact with a person who is a carrier of COVID-19 may refuse their consent to submit a medical examination and the taking of a bodily sample, or to be admitted to a health establishment or to quarantine or an isolation site, or to submit to mandatory prophylaxis, treatment, isolation or quarantine.

2. Restriction on the movement of persons and goods

Confinement of persons:

For the duration of the lockdown (commencing at 23h59 on Thursday 26 March 2020 and expiring at 23h59 on 16 April 2020, notwithstanding the effective time of the lockdown regulations) (“lockdown”), every person is 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.

All gatherings of any nature are prohibited, save for funerals (no night vigils) which are limited to 50 people and all safety measures must be adhered to. Any person who leaves their private residence, whether to perform essential services, obtain essential goods or seek medical attention may be subject to screening for COVID-19.

Essential goods” include any food product or non-alcoholic beverage, animal food, cleaning products, hygiene products, medical supplies, fuel and basic goods, including airtime and electricity.

Essential Services” include:

(a) medical, health (including mental health), laboratory and medical services;

(b) disaster management, fire prevention, firefighting and emergency services;

(c) financial services necessary to maintain the functioning of the banking and payments environment, including the JSE and insurance services;

(d) grocery stores (including spaza shops) and the production and sale of essential goods;

(e) electricity, water, gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance and essential municipal and government services;

(f) care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick and children;

(g) funeral services, including mortuaries;

(h) wildlife management, anti-poaching, animal care and veterinary services;

(i) newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunication infrastructure and services,

(j) cleaning, sanitation, sewerage, waste and refuse removal services;

(k) services relating to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, Master of the High Court, sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services;

(l) essential SARS services;

(m) police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional service officers and traffic management services;

(n) private security services;

(o) transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods and transportation of patients.

The full list is contained in Part B of Annexure B to the lockdown regulations available here: http://www.gpwonline.co.za/Gazettes/Gazettes/43148_25-3_COGTA.pdf

In addition, the lockdown regulations expressly prohibit all movement of persons between the provinces or between metropolitan and district areas.

3. Businesses and Sale of Goods

Closure of businesses: All businesses are required to cease operations, save where they are involved in the manufacturing, supply or provision of an essential good or service.

All retail stores and shopping centres are required to close to the public except where essential goods are sold and then only where controls are in place to ensure that customers keep at a distance of at least one square meter from each other and the requisite hygiene conditions are adhered to.

Sale of non-essential goods: Retail stores selling essential goods are prohibited from selling any other goods for the duration of the lockdown.

All places not involved in the provision of an essential good or service must remain closed during the lockdown. This includes all places where religious, cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational or similar activities take place as well as public parks, beaches, swimming pools, private and public game reserves (except where required for temporary confinement of tourists during the lockdown), all liquor stores, restaurants, taverns, shebeens, or areas in supermarkets where liquor is sold. It also includes taxi ranks, bus depots, train stations and airports.

4. Travel

Border closures: all borders of South Africa will be closed for the duration of the lockdown save in relation to the transportation of fuel or essential goods.

The Minister of Home Affairs has the discretion to allow a person to enter the Republic for emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition.

Foreign tourists: All foreign tourists who arrived in South Africa prior to or after the lockdown and who remain in South Africa must remain in their place of temporary residence for the duration of the lockdown, or 14 days, whichever is longer. Such persons will be subject to screening for COVID-19 and may be quarantined or isolated as required.

Public transport restrictions:

(a) All commuter services (including trains, busses, Ubers, taxis, flights and boat transport) are suspended, except where for the purpose of enabling the rendering of essential services or obtaining essential goods, however, such vehicles must carry no more than 50% of that vehicle’s licensed capacity and all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the limitation of exposure of persons to COVID-19 must be adhered to.

(b) Proviso: if a person who is rendering essential services cannot travel to and from his/her place of employment, the employer must make the necessary transport arrangements, with the same restrictions as above applying.

(c) a form (as attached to the regulations) must be filled out for those who are undertaking travel for the purpose of providing essential services.

5. Isolation and Shelters

Self isolation: The state acknowledges that not all people have the means necessary to self-isolate, while some people may refuse to leave their current place of informal settlement. Accordingly, the state has the power to, for the period of the lock down, forcefully evacuate a person from an area of lock-down to a place of temporary shelter, which complies with prescribed hygiene standards.

Temporary Shelters: the state has undertaken to, for the period of the lock down, identify suitably hygienic temporary shelters for the homeless and suitably hygienic temporary quarantine sites for persons who cannot self-isolate.

6. Compensation: no person is entitled to compensation for any loss or damages arising out of any bona fide action or omission by an enforcement officer.

7. Security: Citizens will take comfort in the fact that the powers and indemnities of security services provided for in any law will not be limited.

8. Directives: As per the directives issued in terms of the regulations, it is important to note that:

(a) Business communities could be asked, in partnership with the municipalities, to play the role of health promoters in their communities and enable uniform, non-alarmist and consistent communication with the public.

(b) Municipalities are instructed to close all public spaces and facilities that do not provide essential services, including:

      • Swimming pools;
      • Libraries;
      • Beaches;
      • Museums and art galleries;
      • Community halls and recreation centres for community events and functions;
      • Public parks; and
      • Wedding receptions and celebrations.

9. Contravention: Contravention is an offence. Any person who contravenes the aforesaid regulations will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or to both.

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