Coronavirus: 5 key regulations governing the national state of disaster


The national state of disaster has officially come into effect with government publishing the gazetted regulations that will govern this period.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the national state of disaster on Sunday in a bid to stem the growing number of positive Covid-19 cases in South Africa.

On Wednesday, that number sat at 116 confirmed cases, with eight cases of local transmissions.

The regulations, which form part of the Disaster Management Act, were signed off by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Tuesday and published on Wednesday.

Here are the most important sections of the regulations.

1)      Duty of ministers

Each government department has their own role to play as set out in the regulations. For example, the minister of health can procure the services of retired health professionals, non-governmental organisations or employees of the Expanded Public Works Programme to assist him in combating Covid-19.

Amid panic buying and necessities flying off the shelves, the minister of trade and industry is to maintain the supply of goods and services, as well as fair pricing on these necessities.

All ministers, within their mandate, are permitted to take "any other steps" to alleviate the effects of Covid-19, the regulations say.

National organs of state must also make available personnel to be used in emergency services.

National, provincial and local institutions must also make available resources, above and beyond funding, to implement these regulations but without affecting their service delivery.

2)      Punishable offences

The regulations also place preventative responsibility on South Africans, criminalising certain conduct which could hinder these efforts.

It is illegal for a person to hide the fact that they or anyone else are infected with Covid-19, and this could be punishable with a fine or imprisonment.

Read more: Coronavirus: National state of disaster takes effect with publishing of gazetted regulations

It is also illegal for anyone to intentionally spread fake news about Covid-19, those infected with the virus or government efforts to address the virus.

A person who intentionally exposes someone else to Covid-19 could also be charged with assault, attempted murder or murder.

3)      No refusals

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, is suspected of having Covid-19 or who has been in contact with someone who is infected with the virus may not refuse to be admitted for a medical examination or into a medical facility. They also cannot refuse treatment or quarantine in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

A warrant in this regard can be issued by a magistrate.

4)      Liquor restrictions

Premises selling liquor such as taverns, restaurants or clubs, are to be closed immediately, the regulations say, unless they accommodate no more than 50 people at a time if space and hygienic conditions are provided.

No special or events liquor licenses will be considered during this time either, and premises selling liquor must be closed by 18:00 on weekdays and Saturdays, and 13:00 on Sundays.

5)      Implementation of regulations

The regulations governing the national state of disaster comes into effect when they are published in the Government Gazette. This means that from Wednesday measures talked about by government to address the deadly Covid-19, was implemented.

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