The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs issued Regulations in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002 (“the Regulations”) on 17 August 2020, in terms of which Alert Level 2 of the national state of disaster will be applied nationally from 18 August 2020.
As part of our FAQs series on the lockdown regulations, we answer some frequently asked questions in respect of Alert Level 2:
1. Is there still a curfew in place?
Yes. Every person is confined to their place of residence from 22h00 to 04h00 daily, unless they have a permit and have to perform a service (unless it is a listed exclusion) or have to attend to a security or medical emergency.
2. Do I still need to wear a face mask?
Yes. A person must wear a face mask in a public place. If a person is not wearing a face mask they may not be in a public place, use public transport or enter a public building, place or premises.
A person undertaking a vigorous sporting activity is not obliged to wear a face mask during such activity.
3. Do we still have hotspots under Alert level 2?
No. The Alert Level 3 declaration of a geographical area or cluster of geographical areas as hotspots for COVID-19 has been removed.
4. Are evictions permitted?
Unless a court grants a court order authorising an eviction or demolition, a person may not be evicted from their land or home or have their place of residence demolished for the duration of the national state of disaster. A court may suspend or stay any order for eviction or demolition until after the national state of disaster has lapsed, unless the court deems it not just and equitable to suspend or stay the order, having considered the listed considerations.
5. Are social gatherings allowed?
All gatherings are prohibited except the following gatherings, subject to certain restrictions:
• Places of worship:
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons (or less, depending on the size of the place of worship) and health protocols and social distancing measures must be adhered to, as provided for in the directions issued by the relevant Cabinet Minister.
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons, face masks are required, health protocols and social distancing measures must adhered to and night vigils are prohibited.
Open for work purposes only.
• Conferences and meetings:
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons (excluding those who attend the meeting virtually) and meetings must be for business purposes only.
Attendance is limited to 50 persons or less per cinema and cinema tickets may only be sold through a booking system.
• Theatres, concerts and live performances:
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons and strict adherence to health protocols and social distancing measures, as provided for in the directions issued by the relevant Cabinet Minister, is required.
Attendance of persons is limited to no more than 50% of the available floor space - this percentage may be increased, as provided for in directions issued by the relevant Cabinet member. Patrons must observe a distance of at least 1.5m from one another.
• All auctions:
Strict adherence to health protocols and social distancing measures and directions issued by the relevant Cabinet Minister, in consultation for the Cabinet member responsible for health, is required.
• Sporting activities, including professional and non-professional matches, authorised by recognised sporting bodies:
Directions for sports matches must be issued by the designated Cabinet members. Only journalists, radio, television crew, security personnel, emergency medical services and the necessary employees employed by venue owners and only the required number of players, match officials, support staff and medical crew required for the sport match are allowed at the venue of the sport match. No spectators are permitted at the venue of the sport match and no international sports events are permitted.
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons, as per the directions issued by the relevant Cabinet member.
• Social event at a place of residence:
Attendance is limited to no more than 10 visitors.
• Concerts and entertainment events:
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons and subject to directions issued by the relevant Cabinet member.
• Events at function venues:
Attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons and subject to directions issued by the relevant Cabinet member.
6. Are public places open?
Certain public places are open to the public subject to certain restrictions. All persons must wear face masks and must observe strict adherence to health protocols and social distancing measures as provided for in the directions issued by the relevant Cabinet Minister. The following public places are open, subject to certain restrictions:
• Gym or fitness centre (attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons)
• Sports grounds and fields
• Swimming pools (attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons)
• Beaches and public parks
• Museums, galleries, libraries and archives
• Personal care services, including hairdressing, beauty treatments, make-up and nail salons and piercing and tattoo parlours
• Bars, taverns, shebeens and similar establishments (attendance is limited to no more than 50 persons)
• Accommodation establishments and tour operators:
◦ Attendance of persons is limited to no more than 50% of the available floor space - this percentage may be increased, as provided for in directions issued by the relevant Cabinet member. Patrons must observe a distance of at least 1.5m from one another.
7. What happens if a gathering contravenes the Regulations?
If a gathering convenes contrary to the Regulations issued, an enforcement officer must order the persons at the gathering to disperse immediately and if the persons refuse to disperse, the enforcement officer may take appropriate action, including the arrest and detention of any person at the gathering.
8. Are night clubs open?
No. Night clubs remain closed to the public.
9. Are initiation schools permitted to operate?
Male and female initiation practices are prohibited for the duration of the national state of disaster.
A person may not arrange or hold an initiation school or conduct an initiation practice and a prospective initiate may not attend an initiation school.
An owner of land may not consent to the use of his or her land for the holding of an initiation school and a traditional surgeon or medical practitioner may not perform circumcision as part of an initiation practice.
The National House of Traditional Leaders and provincial houses of traditional leaders must take steps to ensure that traditional leaders are aware of this regulation.
10. Are prisons open to the public under Alert level 2?
All visits by members of the public to correctional centres; remand detention facilities; police holding cells; military detention facilities; health establishments and facilities, except to receive treatment or medication, subject to strict adherence to health protocols; and older persons' residential facilities are prohibited except to the extent and in the manner directed by the relevant Cabinet member.
11. Is the sale of liquor and tobacco permitted?
The sale of liquor at any licensed premises for off-site consumption is permitted between 09h00 and 17h00, Monday to Thursday. Such permission does not extend to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Public holidays.
The sale of liquor at any licensed premises for on-site consumption is permitted subject to strict adherence to the curfew of 22h00.
Liquor sold in contravention of the above amounts to an offence in terms of the Regulations.
The Regulations do not contain a specific provision which deals with the sale of tobacco however, the sale of tobacco will now be permitted according to the President’s address of 15 August 2020 (“the President’s address”), as confirmed by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister in her address of 17 August 2020.
12. Will the country’s borders be opened under Alert Level 2?
All borders of the Republic remain closed during the national state of disaster, except ports of entry for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods; the entry of foreign sea crew for the purposes of exchange of sea crew in the Republic; or humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies, movement of staff of diplomatic and international organisations and other exceptions as may be determined by the relevant Cabinet Minister.
Entry into or exit from the Republic may be allowed for the following:
• emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition;
• the evacuation of a South African national or permanent resident to the Republic;
• the repatriation of a foreign national to his or her country of nationality or permanent residence;
• the return of a South African national or permanent resident to his or her place of employment, study or residence, outside the Republic; or
• daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend or teach at a school in the Republic, and who are allowed entry and exit, subject to compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Certain categories of international travel may be allowed to resume once it is deemed safe by the Minister of Home Affairs in consultation with the Ministers of Health and Transport.
13. Is domestic air travel allowed under Alert Level 2?
The Minister of Transport must, after consultation with the Cabinet members responsible for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, health, police, trade, industry and competition, and justice and correctional services, issue directions for the resumption of different modes of public transport to cater for the gradual return to work of people, in respect of:
• domestic air travel;
• rail, bus services, taxi services;
• e-hailing services; and
• private vehicles.
14. Is inter-provincial travel permitted?
The Regulations do not contain a specific provision which deals with inter-provincial travel, however based on the President’s address confirming that provincial borders will be opened as well as the fact that domestic air travel will be permitted, it is assumed further regulations will be published in this regard.
15. Are there any restrictions on public transport?
Buses and taxis may not carry more than 70% of the licensed capacity for long distance travel of (200kms or more); and may carry 100% of the licensed capacity for any trip not regarded as long distance travel (less than 200kms).
Any member of the public not wearing a face mask will be barred from boarding or being conveyed in a public transport by the driver, owner or operator of such public transport.
The directions issued by the Minister of Transport will set out health protocols that must be adhered to and steps to be followed for the limitation of the exposure of members of the public using public transport to COVID-19.
16. Who is permitted to return to work?
All persons who are able to work from home must do so. However, persons will be permitted to perform any type of work outside the home, and to travel to and from work and for work purposes under Alert Level 2, unless the work is listed as an economic exclusion in the Regulations. There must be strict compliance with health protocols and social distancing measures, and the return to work must be phased-in, in order to put in place measures to make the workplace COVID-19 ready. It is of paramount importance that re-opening of workplaces is done in a manner that avoids and reduces risks of infection.
17. Which industries are permitted to operate under Alert Level 2?
All businesses may operate except those set out below:
• Night clubs
• International passenger air travel for leisure purposes
• Passenger ships for international leisure purposes
• Attendance of any sporting event by spectators
• International sports events
• Exclusions relating to public transport services as set out in the directions issued by the Cabinet member responsible for transport
• Exclusions relating to education services as set out in the directions issued by the Cabinet member responsible for education
18. What conditions and restrictions are applicable to businesses resuming work?
Businesses with more than 100 employees working together in a group in the same floor space must, where possible, make provision for minimising the number of employees at the workplace at any given time, through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures, in order to achieve social distancing and to limit congestion in public transport and at the workplace.
Relevant health protocols and social distancing measures for persons employed in private residences must be adhered to.
Relevant health protocols and social distancing measures set out in directions must be adhered to, in addition to the occupational health and safety directions issued by the responsible Cabinet member, and applicable labour legislation.
Employers must implement measures for employees who are over 60 or those with co-morbidities to facilitate their safe return to work, which may include special measures at the workplace to limit employees' exposure to COVID-19 infection and where possible that the employees work from home.
Construction, manufacturing, business and financial services firms with more than 500 employees must adhere to the appropriate sector or workplace arrangements or compacts to address the following:
• provide or arrange transport to their employees coming to site, or, where this is not possible, consider staggered working time arrangements to reduce congestion in public transport;
• stagger the return to work of employees to ensure workplace readiness and avoid traffic congestion during peak travel times as a result of the return to work;
• screen employees daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and refer the employees who display symptoms for medical examination and testing where necessary; and
• submit data collected during the screening and testing process to the Director-General: Health.
Sector-specific health protocols must include provisions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the sector concerned and provide for circumstances where a firm cannot operate staggered working hours or provide transport to its employees. Where these sector-specific health protocols referred to above are still to be developed, they must be developed in consultation with the Department of Health.
Furthermore, industries, businesses and entities, both private and in the public sector, which are permitted to operate must:
• Designate a COVID-19 compliance officer to oversee the implementation of a Workplace Plan and strict adherence to the required health standards and hygiene protocols relating to COVID-19 at the workplace.
• Develop a plan for the phased-in return of their employees to the workplace, prior to reopening the workplace for business, which plan must correspond to Annexure E of the Regulations and be retained for inspection. This plan must contain the following:
◦ the employees who are permitted to work;
◦ what the plans for the phased-in return of their employees to the workplace are;
◦ the health protocols that are in place to protect employees from COVID-19;
◦ and the details of the COVID-19 compliance officer.
• Phase in the return of employees to work as well as manage the return of employees from other provinces, metropolitan areas and districts.
• Develop measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols, adequate space for employees and social distancing measures for the public and service providers, as required. A person in control of a retail store or institution must:
◦ take steps to ensure that customers keep a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other and that all directions in respect of health protocols and social distancing measures are strictly adhered to;
◦ and designate a compliance officer to ensure that safety controls are strictly adhered to and display the name of the compliance officer prominently in the store or institution in a visible area.