JUST IN: Limited Covid-19 regulations announced minutes before previous ones expire

Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla announced limited Covid-19 regulations were announced minutes before the previous ones expired on Wednesday evening.  

THE LIMITED REGULATIONS TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

Phaahla said this was necessary to ensure that there is no gap in terms of legal instruments to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“In order to ensure that there is no gap in terms of legal instruments to contain the spread of COVID-19 and future notifiable medical conditions, the department has gazetted the limited regulations for implementation with effect from Thursday.”

HERE IS WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: 

A person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask. (This does not apply to children at school.)Again, under these limited regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask.Gatherings are more clearly defined as planned assemblies or meetings at a particular venue involving more than one hundred persons.For any indoor and outdoor gatherings, a maximum of 50% of the venue capacity may be occupied, provided that every attendee must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, attendees must produce a valid negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours prior to the date of the gathering.If complying with this indoor gathering requirement is not possible, then attendance shall be limited to 1000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller, while the attendance at an outdoor gathering shall be limited to 2000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller.

REGULATIONS FOR TRAVELLERS: 

All international travellers arriving at South African Ports of Entry must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate; or produce a valid negative PCR COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours before the date of departure.Alternatively, travellers have another option of producing a valid negative antigen COVID-19 test result performed by a medical practitioner, registered public health authority, or accredited/approved laboratory obtained not older than 48 hours before the date of departure.In a case where an international traveller is unable to produce a vaccination certificate, or a negative PCR test results older than 72 hours, or a negative antigen test result obtained at least 48 hours prior to departure, then he/she must undergo antigen testing at the Port of Entry. Suppose the person tests positive for COVID-19 in the antigen test. In that case, the traveller will still be admitted into the country but, if the traveller is experiencing symptoms of COVID­19, they must self-isolate for a period of ten days after admission into South Africa. However, the vaccination or testing requirement is not applicable to travellers who are under the age of 12 years and daily commuters from neighbouring countries.

It is important to emphasise that the proposed amendments to the health regulations do not amend the National Health Act, 2003 but rather augment certain existing regulations.

“The department would like to remind people that, despite the current process to source public comments on the health regulations, there is still an imperative to provide options to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and other notifiable medical conditions without invoking the state of national disaster,” Phaahla said. 

He furthermore said members of the public are reminded that COVID-19 remains a life-threatening disease, and the country is not yet out of the woods.

“The only way we can protect ourselves and our loved ones against this pandemic and the current rising number of positive cases is through vaccination and adhering to preventative measures at all times.”

The previous remaining restrictions, initially imposed under the national state of disaster, were due to expire at midnight on Wednesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the end of the national state of disaster in April.

THE PERIOD FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS EXTENDED 

Phaahla has extended the period for public comments on health regulations relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions; Public Measures in Points of Entry; Management of Human Remains, and Environmental Health by three months with effect from Thursday, 5 May 2022.

The new closing date for submission of comments is 5 July 2022, and this extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to go through and consider all comments and representations on the regulations.

HOW TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS: 

Comments must be sent only to this e-mail: [email protected] on or before the expiry of three (3) months period from the date of publication.

All members of the public who submitted comments in the initial public consultation process do not need to resubmit these comments as all comments already submitted will be considered as part of this process.

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