COVID-19 State of Disaster and Lockdown Regulations: Update (3 August 2020)
LOCKDOWN LEVEL 3
Disaster management regulations
- Amendments were gazetted on 31 July to:
- relax the night-time curfew by one hour (now from 22:00 to 04:00)
- clarify the conditions in terms of which professional sports matches may be held
- update restrictions on the use of sports grounds, fields and public swimming pools
- permit the use of accommodation establishments for ‘intra-provincial leisure purposes’
- confirm that tourist attractions are to ‘remain closed except for intra-provincial private self-drive excursion activities and guided tours’, and to
- require the Minister of Home Affairs to designate ports of entry to be used when:
- transporting fuel, cargo and goods to and from SA
- for humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies and the movement of diplomatic mission personnel, the staff of international organisations and any other people identified by ministerial determination, and
- for exchanging foreign sea crew.
- The list of ‘specific economic exclusions’ during Covid-19 lockdown level three has been updated, replacing one included in the 25 June regulations (which replaced the list in regulations issued on 28 May).
- A consolidated version of the Covid-19 lockdown level three disaster management regulations is available on the South African Government website (but does not necessarily reflect the measures in sector-specific ministerial directives).
- The latest target dates for reopening state-run schools were gazetted on 2 August in a notice also dealing with:
- the associated responsibilities of school principals, management teams and teachers
- deviations from the phased return to teaching and learning, and
- the national nutrition programme.
- The new directive also spells out requirements to be met by any ‘parent, caregiver or … designated family member’ choosing not to send a learner to school and the procedures to be followed when authorising the necessary exemption application.
- A National Assembly Appropriations Standing Committee report circulated on 28 July drew attention to Covid-19-related budget cuts affecting Department of Basic Education infrastructure upgrading, renovation, repair, maintenance, rehabilitation, refurbishment, replacement and extension projects that have either been ‘stopped or delayed’.
- They are reflected in the Adjustments Appropriation Bill, which completed its passage through Parliament on 31 July, when it was adopted by the NCOP, having been passed on 29 July by the National Assembly.
Temporary visas and permits
- A ministerial directive issued on 31 July extended to 31 October the validity of certain documents that have either already expired during the State of Disaster or are due to do. The extension applies to:
- temporary residence visas
- asylum seeker permits
- refugee status papers, and
- Lesotho special permits.
- The holders of these visas and permits are absolved from being declared ‘undesirable’.
- The new directive is the fourth amendment to one issued on 26 March, which has since been amended on 9 May, 10 June and 3 July.
Travel and entertainment
- On 30 July, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced several measures relaxing restrictions affecting restaurants, accommodation establishments and tour operators. Only in force once the amendments to earlier directives have been gazetted, the new measures will:
- allow intra-provincial travel for leisure purposes
- permit accommodation establishments to accept bookings for ‘no more than two people per room’, except in the case of nuclear families
- (under the shorter night-time curfew) allow restaurants to offer an ‘uninterrupted dinner service’, and
- permit ‘guided tours in open safari vehicles’.
- A ministerial directive on the biodiversity sector was issued on 28 July, opening botanical gardens to anyone wishing to use them for exercise, although ‘no social gatherings, picnics or public events will be allowed’.
- Amending a ministerial directive issued on 5 June, the 28 July directive also allows ‘travel within a province with the primary purpose to hunt … to obtain … meat for consumption’.
- A clause in the directive prohibiting the provision of ‘any form of accommodation for hunting purposes’ is expected to be amended this week, according to a media statement released on 31 July by the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries.
- The same 28 July directive also spells out the health, hygiene and physical distancing protocols to be observed at wildlife auctions, which have been permitted since 12 July.
- Following an auction, the translocation of wild animals is subject to all applicable legal requirements, including those relating to animal health.
- A ministerial directive on control measures to be implemented at livestock auctions was issued on 31 July. Subject to prevailing physical distancing, health and hygiene measures, ‘agricultural auctions’ were originally permitted in disaster management regulations gazetted on 28 May.
Auctions held by Sheriffs of the Court
- A ministerial directive issued on 27 July prescribes the measures to be followed when conducting auctions and sales in execution. All forms of auction have been permitted since 12 July, in terms of amendments to the 28 May disaster management regulations.
Temporary tax relief measures
- On 31 July, National Treasury released a media statement on the latest draft tax Bills, also confirming Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s intention to approach the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance for extensions to the validity period of:
- a ‘special tax exemption for Covid-19 relief funds’ (by two months to 30 September)
- the deferral of payments to the South African Revenue Service of 35% of any employee tax deducted during the State of Dis aster (from between 1 April 2020 and 31 July 2020 to between 1 April 2020 and 31 August 2020):
- giving these businesses from 1 October 2020 ‘until March 2021’ to repay the deferred tax
- the deferral of excise tax payments on liquor products due in August and September 2020 (by a further 90 days), and
- the deferral of excise tax payments on tobacco originally scheduled for May and June 2020 (to 150 days).
- If approved by the committee, these extensions will be reflected in revised versions of the Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill and Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill.
Loan guarantee scheme
- A joint media statement issued on 26 July by National Treasury, the South African Reserve Bank and Banking Association SA announced the relaxation of some criteria originally used in determining eligibility for a loan. The move:
- allows banks to use ‘more discretionary, … less restrictive’ credit assessment and loan approval processes
- makes ‘business restart loans’ available
- extends the drawdown period to ‘a maximum of six months’
- extends the interest and capital repayment holiday ‘to a maximum of six months after the final drawdown’
- eases the ‘test of good standing’ (‘to accommodate firms … already experiencing cash-flow problems in February’)
- withdraws the turnover cap (replacing it with a maximum loan amount of R100m, with provision for syndicated loans over R50m), and
- makes loans available to sole proprietorships (with ‘salary-like payments’ to owners included in the permissible use of proceeds, and no security, suretyships or guarantees ‘explicitly required’).
- Frequently asked questions about the facility are answered in an amended pamphlet released with the statement.
- The Independent Communications Authority of SA is considering withdrawing the Covid-19 national emergency services code 111 and replacing it with one of six short codes proposed in a Government Gazette notice published on 27 July for comment by 4 August.
DEVELOPMENTS UNRELATED TO THE COVID-19 STATE OF DISASTER
- A draft ten-year youth development policy has been published, although it is not clear if public input is required. No statement was issued.
State capture inquiry
- Amendments to regulations governing the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector (including organs of state) were gazetted on 28 July, allowing:
- information, records and documents that would otherwise have been treated as secret to be shared with ‘any state law enforcement agency’
- a commission of inquiry employee to be ‘employed or appointed on a consultancy basis’ by a state law enforcement agency (once the commission has concluded its work), and allowing
- any such person, once so employed, to use or disclose ‘information, records or documents’ obtained during their service at the commission.
- Public Works & Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille released a media statement on 27 July, providing more information on 50 sustainable infrastructure development and ‘12 special projects’ gazetted on 24 July.
- Now ‘prioritised’, these ‘bankable’ projects were identified during a process involving public-private sector collaboration on ways of improving project delivery, including:
- ‘management structure’
- ‘accountability’, and
- the ‘urgent reforms’ needed to ‘revive infrastructure investment’.
- The projects will focus on:
- water and sanitation
- energy security
- human settlements
- road and rail transport
- small harbour development, and
- ‘Several’ will take the form of labour-intensive public works programmes, focusing on rural roads and bridges and urban ‘cleaning’.
- Several Government Gazette notices were published on 31 July for comment by 30 August, proposing amendments to environmental authorisation procedures affecting:
- the developers of gas transmission pipeline infrastructure, and focusing on:
- the developers of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure, and focusing on:
- four Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment programmes, proposing that they be exempt from prevailing environmental authorisation requirements (subject to the adoption of generic environmental management programmes), affecting:
- Stakeholders in three sector-specific waste management proposals now have more time to comment on schemes envisaged for:
- The deadline for input on a draft framework for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of producer responsibility schemes has also been extended.
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.