The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has gazetted a set of strict new regulations, empowering government to act against those who deliberately endanger themselves and others during the coronavirus epidemic.
The new Disaster Management Act regulations allow government to take action against groups and businesses that do not adhere to gatherings restrictions, as well as those who deliberately infect others with the Covid-19 virus or spread fake news about the outbreak.
According to the new regulations, to prevent further spread of the virus, gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited.
In the event that a gathering of over 100 people does take place, and does not willingly disperse, authorities can move in and disperse crowds themselves, and this can lead to criminal prosecution under the Criminal Procedure Act – this includes arrest and detention.
Gatherings of 50 people or more where liquor is sold is also prohibited.
Sale of liquor
Liquor sales are also facing strict regulations during the outbreak.
All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must either be closed with immediate effect, or must accommodate no more than 50 persons at any time.
If any of these facilities have the capacity to serve 50 people, they must also adhere to all other restrictions and apply the recommended sanitation practices.
No special or events liquor licenses may be considered for approval during the duration of the national state of disaster, and all on-consumption premises selling liquor must be closed between 18h00 and 09h00 the next morning on weekdays and Saturdays; and from 13h00 on Sundays and public holidays.
All off-consumption premises selling liquor must follow these same guidelines.
According to the new regulations anyone who creates or spreads fake news about Covid-19 can be prosecuted.
It therefore applies to both the creators of fake Covid-19 news and those who spread the news through social media and other channels.
Deliberate infection, lying about infection, or refusing treatment
Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with Covid-19 is also guilty of an offence.
On conviction this person is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both a fine and imprisonment.
The new regulations have also introduced severe punishment for people who intentionally expose others to the coronavirus.
Deliberate spreading of Covid-19 would result in the person being charged with either assault, attempted murder or murder.
It further prohibits any person who is infected with Covid-19, or is suspected to be infected, to refuse to be examined, treated or be isolated or quarantined.
The full set of regulations can be found below: