The government has adopted guidelines that update the amended Level 1 lockdown rules in South Africa and clarify a number of existing issues.
The guidelines cover a range of issues including school activities, home affairs services and transport.
They come while the country awaits the expected tightening of the lockdown Restrictions for the country over the Easter break.
The Easter restrictions are expected to be temporary – with government advisors pushing for them to only apply for the actual weekend and “a little bit about it”- and only focus on critical issues like gatherings, curfew and alcohol trafficking.
Of the newly gazetted changes to blocking level 1, only the alcohol transport could be influenced by the possible rule changes around Easter.
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, released a new paper that provides further clarity on the operation of schools, including after-school activities.
The official gazette states that the following activities are permitted and can be resumed without a spectator provided hygiene and social distancing measures are followed:
- School sports games;
- Physical education;
- Extracurricular activities;
- Inter-school, district, provincial and national school sports tournaments.
The Official Gazette also provides for a “Covid Compliance Officer” who must be appointed for each venue and who is responsible for the following:
- Monitoring of a single input;
- Temperature shield;
- Ensuring hand disinfection;
- Contact tracing of participants;
- Monitor the number of people at the event and ensure that guidelines are followed.
A policy released by Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi extends the validity of visas and permits for foreigners who entered South Africa and were unable to return home due to travel restrictions.
This applies to visas that were issued for a period of less than 90 days and that expired during the national disaster state.
However, it does not apply to visas issued for more than 90 days up to 3 years, study visas, contract visas, business visas, medical treatment visas, general work visas, critical skills work visas, retiree visas, and exchange visas that have expired during the national State of disaster.
The Official Gazette also lists the land borders that are now officially open to travelers and the processes that must be followed before entering the country.
The guideline also confirms that the following services are offered from the inside within the scope of blocking level 1:
- Birth registration;
- Reissue of birth certificates;
- Death registration;
- Temporary Identification Requests;
- Applications for identity cards or documents;
- Collection of identity cards or documents;
- Applying for and collecting passports;
- Requests to change personal data;
- Requests for correction of personal data;
- Celebration and registration of marriages;
- All operational back office services to support the front offices with the above services;
- Visa services within the meaning of the Immigration Act; and
- Online renewal of refugee status and asylum seekers permits / visas.
Transportation and alcohol
The official gazette most likely to be out of date in the coming days is the directive published by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula that officially allows the transport of alcohol under the country’s restricted level 1.
The policy was only passed on March 25th and is six weeks late to align with the rest of the Level 1 restrictions. Government insiders have indicated that alcohol restrictions could be resumed over Easter to reduce hospital admissions.
However, the alcohol industry has warned of any restrictions on the sale of alcohol, arguing that action should only be considered when pressure is put on hospitals.
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) said the pandemic and three previous alcohol bans had put the alcohol industry and any related alcohol damage issues to the fore.
“While it cannot be denied that some people have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that can lead to harmful behavior, it is wrong to point out alcohol as the root of all trauma. When weighed against the evidence, the negative effects of another blanket alcohol ban do not seem to justify, ”it said.
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