From national disaster to banning gatherings: six takes from Ramaphosa’s Covid-19 address

16 March 2020 - 09:15 By Unathi Nkanjeni

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa detailed measures aimed at halting the Covid-19 outbreak in SA.

In an address to the nation, Ramaphosa declared Covid-19 a national disaster, implementing travel bans.

In SA, 61 cases have been confirmed. Worldwide, more than 6,000 people have died.

Here are six takes from Ramaphosa's address:

National disaster

“We have now declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

“This will enable us to have an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus.”

Travel bans

“To limit contact between persons who may be infected and South African citizens, we are imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China from March 18.” 

Visa cancellation form high-risk countries

“South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries, such as China, Iran and South Korea.

“Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves, based on the risk level. Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.”

Closing of schools

“Schools will be closed from Wednesday March 18 and will remain closed until after the Easter weekend.

“To compensate, the midyear school holidays will be shortened by a week. Government is working closely with colleges, universities and other public facilities, such as parliament, prisons, police stations and military installations to intensify hygiene control.”

Gatherings of less than 100 people

“Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited. Mass celebrations of upcoming national days such as Human Rights Day and other large government events will be cancelled.

“Where small gatherings are unavoidable, organisers will need to put in place stringent measures of prevention and control.”

Screening and testing measures at international airports

Ramaphosa said 53 of the country’s 72 ports of entry will be closed from Monday.

“We will strengthen surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo [Johannesburg], Cape Town and [Durban's] King Shaka International airports. SA has 72 ports of entry, which are land, sea and airports.

“Effective immediately, all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside the republic is prohibited. We further discourage all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus.”