Statement of the IMC on the Gazetted Regulations on the state of disaster Hon. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Members of the Media
South Africans at large
As you are aware, recently the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) better known as COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. To date it has infected in excess of 213 000 people but despite having caused the death of more than 8 727 people world-wide, around 84 000 people have already recovered from the disease. In South Africa, we have thus far identified 150 cases which are receiving treatment at home or in hospital, depending on the severity of their symptoms.
This pandemic requires urgent action and on 15 March 2020, following a special Cabinet meeting and the classification of the pandemic as a national disaster, President announced that declared national state of disaster in terms of the National Disaster Management Act, 2002. The President in his address to the nation later that night called for an extraordinary response and announced a number of measures to limit contact between persons who may be infected and those that are not infected in order to reduce the spread of the disease using social distancing and hygiene control.
Some of these measures were put into operation already through existing legislative measures such as imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries; the cancellation of visas; the issuance of travel advisories and alert; travellers undergoing high intensity screening; the closure of 35 land, and 2 sea ports of entry; the prohibition of non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic etc.
Notwithstanding this, some of the measures announced by the President, could only be brought to bear through Regulations made under the declaration of a state of disaster in terms of section 27 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002. Since Sunday, legal representatives of the respective organs of state that plays a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic have been at work to draft the regulations needed to further put into operation measures announced by the President.
These regulations are a rule of order which have the force of law, they are prescribed in terms of the Disaster Management Act and, they enable departments to direct certain actions under matters which fall within their legislative mandate.
Furthermore, these regulations are designed to create a regulatory framework for government to respond to the COVID-19 virus in an integrated and co-ordinated manner.
They enable us as government to focus on preventing a disaster and where applicable reduce the risk of disasters, they activate governments capacity emergency preparedness regime, which must be rapid and effective.
I am therefore pleased to present these Regulations, published in Government Gazette No. 43107 on 18 March 2020, to you and would like to highlight some key aspects thereof.
Regulation 1 sets out the “Definitions” of the terms used in the Regulations;
Regulation 2 deals with the “Release of resources” by the Department of Defence, national organs of state, and institutions within national, provincial and local government. Means of dealing with any donor funding received to assist with the national state of disaster is also addressed.
Regulation 3 deals with the “prevention and prohibition of gatherings”. In this case, a gathering of 100 people is prohibited. The assembly of more than 50 persons at premises where liquor is sold and consumed is also prohibited. The Regulation also makes provision for powers of an enforcement officer to disperse a gathering or in some cases to arrest and detain the organiser of a gathering.
Regulation 4 deals with the “Refusal of medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine”. This regulation makes provision for the unlikely scenario where a person refuses to (self) quarantine or (self) isolate. The person may then be placed in isolation or quarantine for a period of 48 hours, as the case may be, pending a warrant being issued by a magistrate, on application by an enforcement officer, to perform the medical examination of a suspected or confirmed case.
Regulation 5 deals with the identification and availing “Places of quarantine and isolation” by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, the Members of the Executive Council in the provinces and the accounting officers of municipalities.
Regulation 6 deals with the “Closure of schools and partial care facilities” from 18 March 2020 until 15 April 2020, which period may be extended for the duration of the national state of disaster by the cabinet member responsible.
Regulation 7 deals with the Suspension of visits for 30 days to Correctional Centres; Remand Detention Facilities; Holding Cells; Military Detention Facilities; and Department of Social Development facilities, including Child and Youth Care Centres, shelters, One Stop Centres, and Treatment Centres, which period may be extended for any period, but not beyond the duration of the national state of disaster by the cabinet member responsible.
Regulation 8 deals with the “Limitation on the sale, dispensing or transportation of liquor”. In this case all on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must be closed with immediate effect, or must accommodate no more than 50 persons at any time: Provided that adequate space is available and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure to persons with COVID-19, are adhered to. Its also notable that no special or events liquor licenses will be considered for approval during the duration of the national state of disaster. Establishments will also close earlier between 18:00 and 09:00 the next morning on weekdays and Saturdays; and from 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays.
Regulation 9 deals with the “Emergency Procurement Procedures” in line with financial management legislation, regulations and instructions.
Regulation 10 deals with the “Authority to issue directions”. In this regard I have authorised the Ministers of Health; Justice and Correctional Services; Basic and Higher Education; Police; Social Development; Trade and Industry; Transport to issue directions where needed to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in matters falling within their respective mandates.
Regulation 11 deals with “Offences and penalties” for a person when found liable on conviction, to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Regulation 12 deals with the Commencement of the Regulations, which came into operation on 18 March 2020.
I believe that though these regulations and those actions already taken under existing legislation, the extraordinary measures announced by the President, and most importantly through the concerted effort made already by the public, the private sector and society at large we have taken a giant step forward in our efforts in bringing the spread of this disease under control. Notwithstanding this, should circumstances warrant it, I would make any additional regulations and or directions as may be needed to achieve our common goal of bringing this disease under control.
I therefore remain confident that through the implementation and enforcement of these regulations, through ongoing mass communication and with the support of our communities, by working together, we can mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and our communities.
I thank you!