A number of government departments published new directives around South Africa’s level 3 lockdown this week, including changes around schools and air travel.
These changes are outlined in more detail below.
Changes for schools and Pre-Grade R
While an official directive is yet to be published, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has confirmed that the return of a number of grades will be postponed due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said that her department will adjust the reopening of phases based on a risk-adjusted strategy.
“We are guided in this by an observation of the rising numbers of community transmissions throughout the country.
“We recognise that schools are based in communities and learners live in the same affected communities and therefore a careful balancing act must be maintained.”
Motshekga is expected to provide further clarity on the return of grades this weekend.
It should be noted that in terms of the latest departmental gazette (29 June) there are no official return plans fro Pre-Grade R students.
This aligns with comments made by the Department of Social Development which has stated that South Africa’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres will remain closed until a future date, to be determined by the minister.
While no date has yet been set for these centres to re-open, the department says that preparations can start to get underway.
“Staff, including managers, early childhood development educators, early childhood development practitioners, administrative and other support staff, either full time or part-time involved in the operations of the early childhood development programme and/or partial care facility, may return to their workplace, subject to measures and conditions as set out in the (health and safety guidelines),” the department said.
These centres are vital for many parents who rely on them for childcare and education so that they may return to work.
According to the General Household Survey by Statistics South Africa, over two million children receive some form of ECD services. Of this number, 800 654 children are currently accessing registered ECD programmes by the Department of Social Development.
626,574 of these children receive a subsidy of R17 per child per day. There are currently 14 205 registered partial care facilities that operate as ECD while many remain unregistered as they do not meet the minimum norms and standards set out in the Children’s Act
Visits and old age homes
The Department of Social Development has published a new directive providing further clarity around visitation rights under the country’s level 3 lockdown.
The directive came into effect following its publication on Thursday (2 July) and makes amendments to the original Social Development directions which were published at the end of March.
Chief among these changes are rules around visitation rights at a number of social centres. Specifically, the directive states that visits are permitted during alert level 3 of the national state of disaster at the following:
- Substance Abuse and Treatment Centres and Halfway Houses;
- Child and Youth Care Centres;
- Shelters for Victims of Crimes and Violence including Gender Based Violence (GBV);
- Residential Facilities for Persons with Disabilities.
Notably, visits to old age homes and frail care facilities are still prohibited under the country’s level 3 lockdown.
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula published a new directive on Thursday (2 July) outlining the changes to air travel under the country’s level 3 lockdown.
This includes the reopening of a number of domestic air routes, as well as general relaxations around the industry.
In addition to the country’s four main airports – which opened three weeks ago – the following domestic airports may open from 1 July:
- Bram Fischer International Airport (Bloemfontein);
- Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
- Pietermaritzburg Airport;
- Port Elizabeth International Airport;
- Richard’s Bay Airport;
- Skukuza International Airport.
OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, King Shaka International airport, and Lanseria have been open since the start of the June.
The new relaxation is for domestic travel only, with international travel only allowed for repatriation and medical evacuations.