4 lockdown changes you may have missed – including visa extensions and Home Affairs suspending services

Government has published a number of new lockdown regulation changes as part of the country’s move to an extended level 3 lockdown.

In a national address on Monday evening (11 January), Ramaphosa said that the extended level 3 lockdown will include the continued prohibition on alcohol sales, a new curfew time, and the closure of the country’s land borders.

However, government has also introduced a number of smaller changes in the latest set of lockdown regulations which you may have been missed.


Banks

The latest regulations state that all banks and financial institutions must:

  • Ensure that all automated teller machines (ATM) have hand sanitisers for use by the public at each automated teller machine;
  • Take steps to ensure that persons queuing at the automated teller machine maintain a distance of one and a half metres from each other.

In a media briefing on Tuesday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma explained that this change was made as the government was concerned about banking queues becoming ‘super-spreader events’.

“It came to our attention that people queue at ATMs but there is no sanitisation there,” she said.

“The regulation is that every bank or financial institution that has an ATM must ensure that there are sanitisers at the ATM. This is very important because otherwise, the ATMs could become super spreaders.”


Home Affairs services

Due to the rapid rise of Covid-19 infections and a number of Home Affairs staff being affected, branches across the country are suspending certain services until further notice.

The services being suspended include:

  • Smart ID applications and collections. Only matric learners will be able to apply for Smart IDs under the current lockdown level;
  • Applications for passports, except for people who fall in the categories permitted to travel in the amended Disaster Management Act Regulations;
  • Marriage services and solemnisation and registration of marriages;
  • Issuing of birth certificates. Births should be registered at the healthcare facilities where they take place.

“We are aware this will be difficult on people. Please bear with us. We are trying to save lives while providing enabling documents,” minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

For any other services, Home Affairs offices will still be open between 08h00 and 15h30.


Extensions

The latest regulations have also extended the validity of visas which expired during the lockdown period.

Foreign nationals in the country with visas that have expired and were automatically extended to 31 January 2021. due to their inability to travel during the lockdown due to Covid-19 will have their visas automatically extended to 31 March 2021.

This means that foreigners living in the country have been given a grace period of nearly a year if their visas have expired.

This is a similar situation to the country’s driving licences which were also given an extension in December.

Licences that expire during the period from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 December 2020 will remain valid, and their validity periods are extended for a further grace period ending on 31 August 2021.

This applies to

  • All learner’s licences;
  • Driving licence cards;
  • Temporary driving licences; and
  • Professional driving permits.

Beaches

In a move that was clearly made to stop South Africans from taking advantage of any loopholes, the latest lockdown regulations now have a clear definition of what a ‘beach’ is.

Under the current lockdown restrictions, South Africans may not access beaches in provinces which have been declared hotspot areas. At the time of writing, this includes all coastal provinces except the Northern gazette.

The new definition provides ontext as to where South Africans are and are not allowed to gather or walk.

In this case, ”beach’ means the sandy, pebbly or rocky shore between the high-water mark and low-water mark adjacent to:

  • The sea;
  • An estuary mouth extending 1,000 meters inland from the mouth; and
  • Within 100 metres of the high-water mark, excluding private property. including the sea and estuary themselves adjacent to the beach.

Read: Government will only review the latest lockdown restrictions when we’ve passed the Covid peak: Dlamini-Zuma

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4 lockdown changes you may have missed – including visa extensions and Home Affairs suspending services