17 August 2020

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:
      • rostering
      • staggered working hours
      • ‘short time’, or
      • ‘shift systems’.
  • The directive amends one issued on 26 March, which was amended on:
    • 8 April
    • 4 May
    • 15 May, and
    • 26 May.


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
    • beer
    • 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.

Matric exams

  • 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.



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’.


Community media


  • 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

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