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Coronavirus - Further Extensive Amendments to the Regulations – South Africa

  • South Africa
  • Health and safety


Under Gazette number 43199 of 2 April 2020, the Department of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has issued various amendments to the regulations issued by it in terms of the Disaster Management Act, relating to funeral attendances, financial services, and transport services and most notably the introduction of Chapter 3 in the regulations pertaining to the establishment of the COVID-19 Tracing Database.

An amendment to regulation 11B (1) allows movement between provinces and between metropolitan and district areas only for:

1. essential workers travelling to and from work

2. transportation of cargo from ports of entry to their intended destination, on condition that precautions are taking to sanitise and disinfect the cargo

3. the transport of mortal remains

4. the attendance of a funeral

An amendment to sub-regulation (4A) empowers Cabinet members responsible for health and social services through directions to designate services necessary to provide or maintain essential health and social services. Similarly, the Cabinet member responsible for finance may also by direction designate services, excluding debt collection services, in relation to the financial system, which are necessary to:

1. provide or maintain essential financial services listed in paragraph 3.1 of Part B of Annexure B

2. provide social grants by banks, mutual banks, co-operative banks and the Postbank in terms of paragraph 3.2 of Part B of Annexure B

The Prudential Authority, the Financial Sector Authority and the Reserve Bank may exercise their functions in terms of their Financial Sector Regulation Act, 2017 and the National Payment System Act, 1998 in the regulation, supervision and oversight of essential financial services as referred to in paragraph 3 of Part B of Annexure B and services in respect of which directions are issued. In addition, the said entities must issue directives to institutions under their respective jurisdictions to take precautionary measures when performing essential financial services to limit staff at offices and to limit the spread of COVID-19. They may also issue guidance and other directives in relation to the performance of essential financial services in terms of the regulations.

The amendment of sub-regulation (6) relaxes border control and allows for designated ports of entry (as designated by the responsive Cabinet member) for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods during lockdown. In addition, the responsible Cabinet member may allow a person to enter or exit the Republic for emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition, or for a South African, or foreign national to be repatriated to their country of nationality or permanent residence. The evacuation of foreign tourists from South Africa where arrangements have been made by the relevant embassy may be allowed provided that a tourist is escorted to the point of exit where he or she may be screened again.

An extensive amendment is introduced by sub-regulation (8) which deals with funeral attendances between a metropolitan or district area, or a province. The sub-regulation provides clarity on who may attend a funeral or cremation. A person travelling to another metropolitan, district or province for a funeral must obtain a permit which corresponds substantially with a new Form 2 at Annexure C from his or her nearest magistrate’s office or police station to travel to the funeral and back. A magistrate or station commander may issue a permit upon production by the applicant of the deceased’s death certificate, or certified copy thereof, alternatively a sworn affidavit which corresponds with a new Form 3 at Annexure C. A person issued with a permit to travel to another metropolitan, district or province who has to remain for the duration of the funeral, but not for more than 48 hours, and who cannot stay at a relative or friend’s residence can stay at a hotel, lodge or guest house for a period of 48 hours, provided that a copy of his or her travel permit is provided to hotel management. Magistrates or station commanders issuing permits are required to open a file containing an issued copy of the permit, and the death certificate or sworn affidavit for a period of three months after the lockdown has lapsed, whereafter the file may be destroyed.

An amendment to regulation 11C provides for taxi services to operate at 70% of the licensed capacity during lockdown.

A person found guilty of contravening any of the above amendments will be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The gazette also provides for the introduction of Chapter 3 to the regulations involving the establishment of a COVID-19 Tracing Database. The National Department of Health will develop and maintain the database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

The database will contain:

1. the first name and surname, identity or passport number, residential address and other address where such person could be located, and cellular phone numbers of all persons who have been tested

2. the person’s test result(s)

3. the details of the known or suspected contacts of any person who tested positive for COVID-19.

Laboratories testing samples must promptly transmit to the Director-General: Health for inclusion on the database. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) must also transmit test results for inclusion on the database. All information kept on the database is confidential and within six weeks after the national state of disaster has lapsed or has been terminated the information on the database will be de-identified and such information will be retained and used only for research, study and teaching purposes. All information not de-identified will be destroyed. The database will be closely monitored by a COVID-19 designated judge who can provide directions as to any further steps to be taken to protect the right to privacy of those persons whose data has been collected, which directions must be complied with.

Any person who failed to comply with their obligations under chapter 3 will be guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both.

Annexure B to the regulations has been amended at paragraph 5 to include the withdrawal of cash.