COVID-19 State of Disaster & Lockdown Regulations: Update (17 August 2020)
Lockdown level 2
- On 17 August, South Africa moved to a more relaxed lockdown level in which, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa:
- there will be no restrictions on inter-provincial travel, and
- subject to the ‘necessary and appropriate stringent health protocols and safety precautions’ being in place:
- accommodation facilities and hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen
- ‘tours will be permitted’
- ‘restrictions on the sale of tobacco will be lifted’
- the sale of liquor at licensed retail outlets for off-site consumption will be allowed (from Monday to Thursday between 09:00 and 17:00), and
- on-site consumption will be permitted at ‘licensed establishments’ until 22:00.
- In terms of government’s ‘risk-adjusted strategy’ for dealing with Covid-19, lockdown level two implies:
- a ‘moderate spread’ of the virus, and
- a ‘relatively high’ state of health system readiness.
- ‘The curfew will remain in place’ between 22:00 and 04:00.
- The State of Disaster has been extended to 15 September.
Temporary employer/employee relief scheme (TERS)
- The period during which applications may be made for temporary unemployment benefits was extended in a ministerial directive gazetted on 13 August.
- Backdated to 27 June and only applicable until 15 August (when lockdown level three ended), the directive includes employee eligibility criteria, which are that an employer:
- should ‘not permitted to commence operations’, or
- be unable to make alternative arrangements for vulnerable workers, or
- be unable to introduce:
- staggered working hours
- ‘short time’, or
- ‘shift systems’.
- The directive amends one issued on 26 March, which was amended on:
Duty payments on tobacco and liquor products
- On 11 August, SARS issued a Government Gazette notice amending the 1964 Customs and Excise Act rules to extend the deferral of excise duty payment deadlines affecting:
- tobacco products
- wine (including vermouth)
- ‘other fermented beverages’
- spirits, and
- ‘other spirituous beverages’.
- This confirms the announcement in a National Treasury media statement released on 31 July.
- The Department of Basic Education issued a media statement on 12 August announcing that:
- this year’s matric examinations will begin on 5 November and end on 15 December, and that
- results will only be released to candidates on 23 February 2021.
- The later-than-usual release of results ‘will not jeopardise’ the admission of eligible students to higher education institutions.
- The amended school calendar for 2020 was gazetted on 11 August.
DEVELOPMENTS UNRELATED TO THE COVID-19 STATE OF DISASTER
Economic recovery action plan
- The National Economic Development and Labour Council has established a ‘high-level working team’ to ‘finalise’ South Africa’s ‘urgent economic recovery programme’.
- According to the Presidency media statement announcing this on 13 August:
- the team will build on the foundation of work already done in ‘implementing … agreements reached at the presidential job summit in 2018’, and
- during ‘the next three weeks’ will identify
- ‘a set of priority actions for economic reconstruction’, and
- the ‘institutional arrangements’ required to support them.
- A presidential working committee established to take jobs summit proposals forward will oversee this process and present the action plan to Cabinet for approval.
Legal Practice Council
- Draft amendments to the rules on practical vocational training have been released for comment by 20 September.
- A draft language policy was gazetted on 14 August for comment by 14 September. It is proposed that:
- English should be the council’s ‘language of record’ and used in ‘all internal and external communication’, but that
- at the council’s provincial offices, in keeping with section 30 of the Constitution (the right to use a language of choice), multilingual employees should be available to ‘receive and interpret complaints from members of the public’ in ‘other official languages’.
- The Media Development and Diversity Agency is working on a ‘sustainable model’ for South Africa’s ‘fragile’ community media sector. According to Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, it will be
- based on ‘wide-ranging research’
- inform a ‘concrete legislative proposal’ that is ‘practical, fundable and implementable’, and should also
- identify ways in which ‘community structures’ take ‘ownership’ of the sector and are ‘party’ to funding it.
Prepared by Pam Saxby
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.