Monday, 04 April 2022 21:17

SA's state of disaster has been lifted with interim measures announced.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has lifted South Africa's national state of disaster more than two years after it was first declared in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an address on Monday evening (4 April), Ramaphosa said the introduction of the state of disaster and associated lockdown restrictions were necessary to manage the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.

It also permitted the establishment of the Covid-19 TERs scheme, the R350 social relief of distress grant, the extension of driving licences and other necessary changes.

However, he noted that the state of disaster and its powers were always 'temporary and limited', with the country now entering a new phase in the pandemic. While the coronavirus continues to circulate, it is not causing the same number of hospitalisation or deaths.

"Going forward, the pandemic will be managed in terms of the National Health Act. The draft Health Regulations have been published for public comment. Once the period for public comment closes on the 16th of April 2022 and the comments have been considered, the new regulations will be finalised and promulgated.

"Since the requirements for the National State of Disaster to be declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act are no longer met, Cabinet has decided to terminate the National State of Disaster with effect from midnight tonight."

Ramaphosa said certain provisional regulations will remain in place for a further 30 days to ensure a smooth handover to the new regulations under the National Health Act.

The transitional measure which will automatically lapse after 30 days include:

  • Wearing face masks in an indoor public space.
  • The existing restrictions on gatherings will continue. Both indoor and outdoor venues can accept 50% of capacity subject to vaccination or a Covid test. Gatherings of 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors are permitted for the unvaccinated.
  • Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test.
  • The R350 SRD grant will remain in place, with the Department of Social Development finalising separate regulations allowing it to continue.
  • The directions extending the grace period for driving licences remain in place.

Government will also keep in place the Covid-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme, Ramaphosa said, which "will only be terminated once it has achieved its purpose".

Lockdown regulations mean that government scheme is solely responsible to pay compensation to anyone injured through a Covid-19 vaccination, while other normal options, such as suing the manufacturer or the institution where the vaccine is administered, are closed off. 

All other regulations will fall away from midnight and the coronavirus alert levels will no longer apply, the president said. The no-fault vaccination compensation scheme will also continue operating.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) have welcomed the announcement to end the state of disaster and have written an open letter to the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, calling on him to retract the amendments as they believe that is it a transparent and opportunistic attempt to extend the unilateral power that the South African government afforded themselves during the State of Disaster.

In a statement, DA calls on all South Africans to scrutinise the proposed amendments and to lodge their objection before or on the 16th of April.

Meanwhile the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 685 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,667,560This increase represents a 5.4% positivity rate.

Due to the ongoing audit exercise by the National Department of Health (NDoH), there may be a backlog of COVID-19 mortality cases reported. Today, the NDoH reports 2 deaths and of these, 2 occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 100,052 to date.