Government has gazetted directives that update South Africa’s adjusted level 1 lockdown regulations, providing clarity on a number of existing issues.
The directives deal with a range of topics including activities at schools, Home Affairs services, and transport.
They come as the country awaits the expected introduction of stricter lockdown restrictions for the country over the Easter holiday period.
It is anticipated that the Easter restrictions will be temporary – with government advisors pushing for them only to be in effect for the actual weekend and “a little bit over that” – and to focus only on critical points like gatherings, curfew and alcohol trade.
Of the newly gazetted lockdown level 1 changes, only the transport of alcohol could be affected by the possible rule changes around Easter.
Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga published a new gazette that provides further clarity around the operating of schools, including extra-curricular activities.
The gazette states that the following activities are permitted and may resume, without any spectators, subject to compliance with hygiene and social distancing measures:
- School sport matches;
- Physical education;
- Extra-curricular activities;
- Inter-school, district, provincial and national school sport tournaments.
The gazette also provides for a ‘Covid compliance officer’, which must be appointed to each venue and who will be responsible for:
- Monitoring a single entrance;
- Temperature screening;
- Ensuring the sanitising of hands;
- Contact tracing of participants;
- Monitoring the number of people at the event and ensuring guidelines are followed.
A directive published by Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi extends the validity of visas and permits of foreigners who entered South Africa and have been unable to return home due to travel restrictions.
This applies to visas issued for a period of less than 90 days which expired during the national state of disaster.
However, it does not apply to visas issued for more than 90 days up to 3 years, study visas, treaty visas, business visas, medical treatment visas, general work visas, critical skills work visas, retired person visa and exchange visas which expired during the national state of disaster.
The gazette also lists the land borders which are now officially open to travellers and the processes that must be followed before being allowed to enter the country.
The directive also confirms that the following services are being offered by Home Affairs under the level 1 lockdown:
- Births registration;
- Re-issuance of births certificates;
- Death registration;
- Applications for temporary identity certificate;
- Applications for identity cards or documents;
- Collection of identity cards or documents;
- Applications and collection of passports;
- Applications for amendments of personal particulars;
- Applications for rectification of personal particulars;
- Solemnisation and registration of marriages;
- All Back office operational services to support front offices on the above services;
- Visa services in terms of the Immigration Act; and
- Online renewal of refugee status and asylum seeker permits /visas.
Transport and alcohol
The gazette which is most likely to be outdated in the coming days is the directive published by Transport minister Fikile Mbalula which officially allows for the transportation of liquor under the country’s level 1 lockdown.
Only gazetted on 25 March, the directive is effectively six weeks late in aligning with the rest of the level 1 restrictions. Government insiders have indicated that alcohol restrictions could be restricted again over Easter in a bid to lower hospital admissions.
However, the alcohol industry has warned against any restrictions on the sale of alcohol, arguing that measures should only be considered if there is pressure on hospitals.
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) said the pandemic and three previous alcohol bans have brought the alcohol industry and any associated problems of alcohol harm into sharp focus.
“While it is undeniable that some people have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that could lead to harmful behaviour, to single out alcohol as the root of all trauma is wrong. Weighed against the evidence, the negative impact of a further blanket ban on alcohol seems unjustifiable,” it said.