Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended the national state of disaster by another month.
Government declared a national state of disaster under Section 27(1) and Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act on 15 March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the state of disaster was originally set to lapse on 15 June, the act provides that it can be extended by the Cogta minister by notice in the gazette for one month at a time before it lapses.
In a gazette published on Wednesday (13 January), Dlamini-Zuma said that the extension takes into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster.
The state of disaster is now set to lapse on 15 February – nearly a full year since it was officially introduced.
The state of disaster is what gives power and effect to all current lockdown regulations, which are all being directed under the Disaster Management Act. By terminating the state of disaster, all current regulations – such as curfew and restrictions on gatherings and movement – would also be ended.
In a national address on Monday evening (11 January), president Cyril Ramaphosa said that the country will remain on an extended level 3 lockdown, continuing the current prohibition on the sale of alcohol and other restrictions.
The president also announced a number of changes including a new curfew time (21h00 – 05h00) as well as the closure of the country’s land borders. These changes are in effect until further notice.
In an analysis of the latest lockdown, banking group BNP Paribas said that these restrictions are a watered-down version of the previous level 3 lockdown, likely in an attempt to keep more of the economy open.
“Our base-case forecasts do not assume that a hard lockdown’ will be implemented because we think that economic considerations will be given more weight than in the initial wave.
“Should infections be seen to be spiralling out of control, however, we cannot rule out harder regulations with a greater economic impact,” it said.