COVID-19 State of Disaster & Lockdown Regulations: Update
On 16 April, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced a fourth set of amendments to the 18 March Covid-19 State of Disaster regulations. Changes have also been made to several ministerial directives – and a directive has been issued on emergency water services.
Readers are reminded that no consolidated set of State of Disaster regulations has yet been published. Also, not all ministerial directives are reflected in the amendments. This can make it difficult to find the latest measures affecting specific issues.
Key changes affecting life under lockdown:
- The regulations now prohibit evictions from places of residence, regardless of whether a dwelling is formal, informal or on a farm
- a national disaster water command centre has been established to coordinate the ‘emergency procurement’ of any goods and services required to ensure that water and sanitation services are provided where they are lacking or inadequate
- the amended regulations now reflect the 7 April amendment to the ministerial directive on moving children between the co-holders of parental responsibility
- a draft notice (Engineering News) amending the 26 March directive on government’s Covid-19 temporary unemployment relief scheme (and yet to be gazetted):
- makes it mandatory for any employer whose operations have ceased for three months or less because of Covid-19 lockdown measures to apply for benefits from the temporary unemployment relief scheme on behalf of affected employees
- allows any employer who required a staff member to take annual leave during the lockdown to offset any amount received from the Covid-19 relief scheme for that staff member against his/her annual leave payment
- schools and ‘partial care facilities’ will remain closed until the lockdown is lifted
- visits by members of the public to correctional centres, remand detention facilities, holding cells, military detention facilities remain ‘suspended’ for the duration of the lockdown
- visits by members of the public to Department of Social Development facilities (including child and youth care centres, shelters, one stop centres, and treatment centres) also remain ‘suspended’
Key changes affecting businesses operating during the lockdown (including mines):
- the amended regulations now reflect measures announced by Mineral Resources & Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, aimed at ‘maintaining a continuous supply of energy and petroleum products’:
- allowing collieries supplying Eskom to continue operating at full capacity
- capping the operational capacity of all other mines at 50% for the duration of the lockdown
- prescribing strict screening, testing and quarantine protocols for returning employees
- allowing oil refineries (including smelters, plants and furnaces) to operate at full capacity
- only industrial alcohol used in manufacturing hand sanitisers, disinfectants, soap and household or other cleaning products may be transported from one place to another
- transporting any other form of alcohol is prohibited
- all other cargo ‘congesting’ ports of entry/exit may now be moved to warehouses
- the amended regulations now reflect the 6 April ministerial directive allowing grocery stores and wholesale produce markets, spaza shops, informal fruit and vegetable sellers and langanas to operate as essential services
- on 18 April, the Department of Small Business Development released guidelines for participation in the spaza shops and general dealers support scheme
Additions to the list of essential services:
- trades needed for emergency repair work
- call centres restructuring consumer debt at retail outlets
- short-term insurance policy call centres dealing with issues of income loss or reduced income
- ICT services required by other essential service providers
- transporting goods vital to the continuing ‘functionality’ of higher education institutions (as gazetted on 17 April)
Additions to the list of essential goods:
- hardware, ‘components’ and other supplies needed for emergency home repairs
- vehicle components
- goods vital to the continuing ‘functionality’ of higher education institutions:
- ICT ‘devices’
- gases, liquids and chemicals used to preserve biological samples and to maintain ‘equipment and machinery’
- ‘laboratory and farm animal’ feed
On 20 April, ‘cooked hot food’ was excluded from the list of essential goods in a fifth amendment to the disaster management regulations.
No consolidated, up-to-date lists of essential goods and services have yet been published.
There have also been changes to lockdown requirements affecting the financial sector and electronic communication networks.
- On 9 April, the Prudential Authority issued a directive making it mandatory for financial institutions providing essential services during the lockdown to develop an ‘infectious disease preparedness and response plan’ including
- temperature screening for staff members
- self-quarantine protocols
- On 16 April, the Prudential Authority and Financial Sector Conduct Authority issued a joint communication on the impact of the lockdown on the insurance industry, focusing on
- solvency capital retention
- outstanding premium payments
- foreign exchange limits
- dividends and staff bonuses
- reporting requirements
- to ease congestion and improve service quality during the lockdown, four networks have been temporarily assigned additional radio frequency spectrum
- this is in keeping with a ministerial directive issued on 26 March and amended on 6 April
- throughout the State of Disaster, these networks are required to
- ‘support and create virtual teaching and classrooms … in various districts’
- zero-rate designated Covid-19 sites
- zero-rate calls to Covid-19 emergency numbers
- the temporary measures will remain valid at least until 31 July
- no holder of a temporary residence visa or permit that expired after 15 February 2020 but has not yet been renewed will be declared an ‘illegal or prohibited’ person
- no foreign national will be arrested or detained for holding an expired visa
- foreign nationals opting to return to their countries of origin or residence after the lockdown ‘instead of renewing their visas’ will not be declared ‘undesirable’ upon departure
- no asylum seeker whose permit expired on or after 16 March 2020 will be penalised or arrested, on the understanding that the permit is renewed ‘within 30 calendar days of the lockdown being lifted’
A hi-tech monitoring and evaluation process’ is now in place for assessing complaints and reports of ‘digital misinformation’ during the Covid-19 lockdown.
National emergency services
Code ‘111’ has been dedicated to emergency Covid-19 calls.
Expanded public works programme (EPWP) participants
The Department of Public Works has clarified the role of EPWP participants in curbing the spread of Covid-19 at ‘strategic areas’ identified in an 8 April directive on the recruitment and training of additional health personnel. They will:
- assist with screening communities for people ‘possibly’ infected by the Covid-19 virus and referring them to the nearest testing sites
- provide cleaning, sanitising and food preparation services at quarantine sites
We hope you find this useful. Please let us know of any improvements you believe need to be made.
Compiled by Pam Saxby
See prior regulations here: COVID-19 State of Disaster & Lockdown Regulations: A summary
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.