COVID-19 State of Disaster & Lockdown Regulations: Latest Update
COVID-19 State of Disaster & Lockdown Regulations: Update
A new set of Covid-19 disaster management regulations was gazetted on 29 April, consolidating and replacing those issued on 25 March and since amended several times. Chapter 3 spells out ‘permissions and prohibitions’ under lockdown level four, affecting sectors of the economy either already operating or allowed to gradually resume normal activities – subject to implementing strict social distancing, health and hygiene protocols. In addition, the new regulations:
- make it compulsory, when in public, to cover the nose and mouth by wearing a cloth face mask, similar homemade item or appropriate alternative
- require every employer to provide a face mask to any staff member regularly in direct contact with members of the public
- require employers to introduce ‘special measures’ for staff members with ‘known or disclosed health issues or comorbidities’ and/or above the age of 60
- prescribe the social distancing and hygiene measures to be taken by all retail outlets
- continue lockdown level five prohibitions on ‘the sale, dispensing and distribution of liquor’ as well as the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes, and
- allow people to ‘walk, run or cycle between the hours of 06:00 to 09:00, within a five-kilometre radius of their place of residence’.
Workplace health and safety
Two ministerial directives were gazetted last week:
- one sets out the requirements to be met by ‘any workplace permitted to continue or commence operations’ under the new regulations (including conducting a risk assessment), and
- the other focuses on developing Covid-19-related health and safety operating standards and procedures at mines.
A media statement released on 3 May unpacks the more general requirements.
According to a Department of Transport media statement released on 1 May:
- Metrorail commuter services will not be resumed until ‘the risk of transmission is manageable on a corridor-by-corridor basis’
- even when SA moves to lockdown level three, only a ‘limited’ commuter rail service is envisaged.
A ministerial directive issued the same day spells out measures to be taken by road passenger transport operators during the 1 to 7 May once-off period of inter-provincial movement, authorised on 30 April in anticipation of large numbers of citizens returning to work under lockdown level four.
Last week, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu issued a media statement clarifying:
- the requirements to be met when applying for a R350 per month ‘special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant’ (from May to October)
- the individual child support grant top-up of R300 (during May only)
- the R500 top-up for caregivers of children receiving support grants (from June to October) and
- the new monthly arrangement for ‘older persons and persons with disabilities’ receiving social grants, aimed at avoiding the ‘overcrowding’ and other ‘challenges’ experienced in April at grant payment points.
A ministerial directive gazetted on Sunday prescribes the measures to be taken by communications and digital technologies sector operations either continuing activities under Covid-19 lockdown level four or gradually resuming them.
Grocery retail outlets
The Competition Commission has confirmed that there will be no extension to the 28 May deadline for complying with a grocery retail market inquiry report recommendation on ceasing the enforcement of exclusivity provisions in long-term lease agreements between national supermarket chains and retail property owners. Covid-19 lockdown ‘restrictions on movement’ have ‘exacerbated’ the ‘detrimental competitive effects’ of exclusive lease agreements, which must end.
Stakeholders have three more months to implement other recommendations in the report, including:
- a code of conduct seeking to ensure the equal treatment of retail and wholesale customers by suppliers
- a code of conduct seeking to ensure the equal treatment of all tenants by retail property landlords, and
- the development of a competitiveness support package for ‘small and independent grocery retailers’.
National Treasury has called for comment by 15 May on:
- a revised draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill
- a revised draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill, and
- proposed amendments to rules under the 1964 Customs & Excise Act
- a R750 per month employment tax incentive
- the deferral of 30% of PAYE obligations
- the deferral of provisional tax obligations on a gross income threshold of up to R100m
- a four-month ‘holiday’ for skills development levy contributions
- expanded access to living annuity funds
- a special tax dispensation for funds established to assist with Covid-19 disaster relief efforts
- fast-tracked VAT refunds
- the deferral of carbon tax return filing and first payment obligations, and
- the deferral of excise duty payments on tobacco and liquor products.
Prepared by Pam Saxby
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"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.