Thursday, 14 April 2022 10:59

Government extend deadline for public comments on new lockdown rules.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Health minister Dr Joe Phaahla has extended the deadline for public comments on amendments to the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions to 24 April 2022.

The comment period was initially set to end on Friday (15 April 2022).

The regulations are part of the government's transition plans from the current state of disaster, which had been in effect for over two years. The new regulations will effectively act as a new instrument for the government to manage the current Covid-19 pandemic and future pandemics.

As such, the 157-page document covers dozens of major issues, including entry to and from the country, wearing masks, vaccinations, and managing the deceased.

Some of the key proposals highlighted by the department include:

  • It is proposed that all people entering or exiting South Africa during the pandemics should present negative PCR tests not older than 72 hours if they do not have a vaccination certificate.
  • As part of efforts to manage transmission during large gatherings – considered possible superspreader events – continued restrictions will be placed on night vigils and after-funeral gatherings.
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings may be occupied up to 50% of the venue capacity, provided valid vaccine certificates are produced. For gatherings where no valid vaccine certificates are required, artificial limits of 1,000 and 2,000 people will apply for indoor and outdoor gatherings, respectively.
  • Social distancing of one metre must be maintained.
  • Face masks will be compulsory for indoor gatherings, with the regulations specifying that people cannot enter public premises or use public transport without a mask.

The regulations also open the door for other restrictions, labelled as 'advice giving' between different departments. This advice can relate to curfew, national lockdown, economic activity and the sale of alcohol, among others.

These regulations, once approved, will be implemented within the National Department of Health and with the support of some of the public entities reporting to the department and will not be tabled before parliament since it is subordinate legislation that parliament has already delegated to the minister, the department said.