South Africa Eases COVID-19 Restrictions

On September 16, 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would move from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1 of Risk Adjusted Strategy as of midnight on September 20, 2020. This is in part in response to the relatively low levels of infections and the government led interventions to combat the spread of COVID-19. While South Africa has confirmed over 650,000 infections and has suffered 15,000 deaths, recent data illustrates that the number of new cases has substantially decreased—from nearly 14,000 new daily cases on July 24, 2020 at its peak, to just 1,555 new cases on September 20.

This announcement comes a few days after the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) announced the extension of the national state of disaster from 15 September 2020 to 15 October 2020, as published in Government Gazette 43713. The reason for the extension of the national state of disaster is to grant government the authority required to continue updating existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken to address the impact of the pandemic.

Eased restrictions

The following activities are permitted under Alert Level 1:

Gatherings:

  • Gatherings will be allowed as long as the number of people do not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue—up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings;
  • Maximum capacity at funerals has been increased from 50 to 100 people;
  • Night vigils are still prohibited;
  • Venues such as gyms and recreational facilities may have 50% of total capacity; and,
  • Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.

Travel:

  • The government will gradually ease restrictions on international travel for business and leisure from October 1 – subject to containment measures. A list of permitted countries will be published and based on the latest scientific data;
  • International travel will only be allowed through the main border ports or through OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, or King Shaka International;
  • Travelers will need to provide a negative coronavirus certificate or will be put into quarantine at their own cost; and
  • All travelers will be required to install the COVID-19 alert level app, which helps the government facilitate effective contract tracing.

Others:

  • The evening curfew will apply between midnight and 4:00 a.m.;
  • Alcohol for home consumption can be sold between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday;
  • Consumption of alcohol at restaurants, taverns etc. will be allowed subject to adherence to the curfew; and,
  • More government facilities and services will return.

Regulations which give effect to the eased restrictions were published on September 17, 2020 under Government Gazette No 43725.

For further information, please reach out to Covington’s COVID-19 Task Force at COVID19@cov.com, Mosa Mkhize at MMkhize@cov.com and/or Shivani Naidoo at SNaidoo@cov.com.