New lockdown rules for South Africa to replace state of disaster – here’s what you should know

The Department of Health has published new regulations under the National Health Act which will effectively act as a long-term replacement to South Africa’s state of disaster Covid regulations.

This is part of the government’s transition plans from the current state of disaster which has been in effect for over two years, the department said in an accompanying statement.

The new regulations will effectively act as a new instrument for the government to manage the current Covid pandemic and future pandemics.

As such, the 157-page document covers dozens of major issues including entry to and from the country, the wearing of masks, vaccinations and the management of the deceased.

Some of the key proposals highlighted by the department include:

  • It is proposed that all people entering or exiting South Africa during the pandemics should present negative PCR tests not older than 72 hours in the event they do not have a vaccination certificate.
  • As part of efforts to manage transmission during large gatherings – considered to be possible superspreader events – continued restrictions will be placed on night vigils and after-funeral gatherings.
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings may be occupied up to 50% of the venue capacity, provided valid vaccine certificates are produced. For gatherings where no valid vaccine certificates are required, artificial limits of 1,000 and 2,000 people will apply for indoor and outdoor gatherings, respectively.
  • Social distancing of one metre must be maintained.
  • Face masks will be compulsory for indoor gatherings, with the regulations specifying that people cannot enter public premises or make use of public transport without a mask.

The regulations also leave the door open for other restrictions, labelled as ‘advice giving’ between different departments. This advice can relate to curfew, national lockdown, economic activity and the sale of alcohol, among others.

These regulations, once approved, will be implemented within the National Department of Health and with the support of some of the public entities reporting to the department and will not be tabled before parliament since it is subordinate legislation which parliament has already delegated to the minister, the department said.

The public comment period will close on 15 April 2022. Further details on the correct comment procedures will be published shortly.

The full regulations are published in full below:

Read: Pushback against South Africa’s extended state of disaster

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