The following measures and restrictions are being implemented so as to enhance our response:
- We have introduced provisions that enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks, particularly in a public setting. Regulation 5 of the regulations now reinforces the mandatory wearing of masks (which includes a cloth face mask, homemade item, or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth) in public and in public places.
- Any employer, manager or owner of a building used by the public to obtain goods or services, will be responsible if any person enters and remains in such building, place or premises, without wearing a mask.
- The penalty, should they not take all reasonable measures to ensure masks are worn, is a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment. This penalty is now contained in regulation 14(5) of the Regulations.
- This is necessary to achieve compliance with the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Together with social distancing, sanitization and the regular washing or sanitizing of hands, the wearing of masks constitutes one of the most effective systematic means of reducing transmission of Covid-19.
- The penalty lies with the employer, manager or owner of a building as access is controlled by such persons.
- We have reintroduced the prohibition on the sale, transportation and dispensing of alcohol, because the risks associated with alcohol are far too high and we must limit the pressures on our health care system.
- We have based this decision partially based on the comparative observation we have made between Levels 5, when there was no prohibition, Level 4 (when there was a full prohibition for consumption) and Level 3 (when there was partial access). When there was an absolute prohibition on the sale of alcohol, the overall number of visits to trauma units in South Africa dropped from 42 700 to approximately 15 000 visits. Following the lifting of the prohibition on the sale, transportation and dispensing of liquor in Alert Level 3, health facilities have seen a substantial rise in alcohol related trauma injuries and death, resulting in added strain on the capacity of health facilities.
Given the rapid increase in the number of people infected by COVID-19 and in need of healthcare, we thought it prudent to save bed space for COVID cases by limiting the potential hazard of alcohol related trauma cases.
- Because these and other violent trauma cases often happen at night, we have also reintroduced a curfew, as of tonight, between 9pm and 4am.
- This means only people undertaking essential and permitted services will be permitted on the road in between these times.
- Such persons will need the approved and signed form which is annexed to the regulations.
- This form is similar to the one we used during level 4 but will have to be resigned by heads of institutions or duly authorized officials.
- We are also reintroducing penalties when contravening the regulations in respect of public transport.
- The use of public transport in previous Alert Levels 3 and 4, was regulated by way of Directions issued by the Minister of Transport. There were no penalties for transgression of these Directions.
- It has since become necessary to implement stricter measures for the use of public transport in the regulations, which are now permitted to carry 100% of licensed capacity for travel not regarded as long distance travel, subject to strict health protocols, measures to ensure air circulation (which will be detailed in relevant directions) and the wearing of masks by all passengers and drivers as well as conductors.
- For long distance intra-provincial travel and permitted inter-provincial travel, public transport may carry 70% of licensed capacity. Where loading capacity in respect of long distance travel is contravened, penalties will now be applicable in respect contravention thereof. In respect of exceeding the loading capacity for travel not deemed long distance travel, the existing enforcement in terms of traffic legislation will be enforced.
- On the wearing of masks in public transport, the driver, owner or operator of the vehicle who fails to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with regulation 5(2)(a) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
There were also areas that required further elaboration as they may have been vague in the regulations and directions. In this regard:
- We have retained the regulations that permit longer exercise hours, and the utilisation of parks for this purpose (and this purpose only) but we cannot open beaches as they carry with them higher risks.
- We will continue with the prohibition of social gatherings such as the visitation to families and friends, and will not permit any social gatherings but for funerals.
- These will require the observance of the established health and wellbeing protocols, including limiting participants to 50, so long as there is washing of hands, wearing of masks, sanitisation of surfaces and the maintenance of the 1,5metre social distance.
- We will also revert to the previous practice of not allowing interprovincial travel, as we have seen that travel between low and high concentration zones have made virtually all our country a hot spot.
- In this regard, permits will have to be secured for interprovincial travel.
- We have also taken the time to clarify that the use of accommodation (such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, lodges) for leisure activities is prohibited.
- At this stage we can only permit the use of such establishments for persons travelling for work or business purposes or where these facilities are used for quarantine or where there are remaining tourists. The establishments must also maintain a record of patrons.
- We have also enhanced the regulations with respect for auctions to take place, in line with health protocols and social distancing measures. These auctions can be conducted safely and in line with the health protocols similar to those that have been developed for permitted agricultural auctions.
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