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Everything you need to know about SA's new lockdown laws

13 July 2020 - 06:31 By Matthew Savides
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced new lockdown regulations on Sunday night, including a jail term or fine, or both, relating to the wearing of masks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced new lockdown regulations on Sunday night, including a jail term or fine, or both, relating to the wearing of masks.
Image: GCIS

At about 9pm on Sunday night, more than a dozen new pieces of legislation were thrust upon SA.

They cover everything from alcohol, cigarettes and wearing a mask to when you can leave your home.

The laws, gazetted by co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, take effect immediately.

This is everything you need to know about the new Disaster Management Act regulations.

Booze banned (Regulation 44)

“The sale, dispensing and distribution of liquor is prohibited,” the Act states, giving legal force to the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night.

The regulation also bans the transportation of liquor, except if it is required for industries producing hand sanitisers, disinfectant, and similar products. Transportation of alcohol is allowed for export, and from manufacturing plants to storage facilities.

Tobacco products  still banned (Regulation 45)

Unsurprisingly, the new regulations continue the ban on tobacco and related products.

The regulation states: “The sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products to members of the public and to persons, including retailers who sell directly to the members of the public, is prohibited. The sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products for export is permitted. The sale of tobacco from farmers to local processors or local manufacturers, and from processors to manufacturers, is permitted.”

Curfew is back (Regulation 33)

Ramaphosa said on Sunday that many of the social ills linked to excessive alcohol consumption took place at night, which meant a curfew needed to be brought back. This was made law by regulation 33 of the Act.

“Every person is confined to his or her place of residence from 9pm until 4am daily, except where a person has been granted a permit to perform a service permitted under Alert Level 3, or is attending to a security or medical emergency,” the law states.

Wearing a mask is not an option — it's the law (Regulation 5)

Regulation 5, which governs the wearing of masks, has been changed to force South Africans to wear them, including in open spaces.

“The wearing of (a) a cloth face mask, (b) a homemade item, or (c) another appropriate item, that covers the nose and mouth, is mandatory for every person when in a public place,” the regulations state.

They go further to state that you cannot use any form of public transport — in any capacity or role — without wearing a mask. You also cannot go into or be inside a building, place or premises without a mask. You cannot “be in any public open space” without a mask.

The exception is for people who are performing “vigorous exercise in a public place”. However, social distancing must be in place, with the person doing the exercise maintaining “a distance of at least three metres from any other person”. What defines “vigorous” will be determined by health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in due course.

Employers must provide masks, and that includes school bosses (Regulation 5)

“An employer must provide every employee with a cloth face mask, homemade item, or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth when in the workplace,” regulation 5 of the Act states.

The law says an employer may not allow any employee to perform any duties or enter the employment premises if the employee is not wearing a mask, or something appropriate.

It also puts similar responsibilities on the shoulders of school owners, managers and principals.

“The principal of a school, or owner or manager of an early childhood development centre, must take all reasonable steps to ensure the relevant authority supplies the school or early childhood development centre with sufficient cloth face masks, homemade items, or other appropriate items that covers the nose and mouth to provide to a learner of that school or early childhood development centre who does not have a cloth face mask, homemade item, or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth,” the law states.

If a pupil arrives at school without a mask, they may be provided with an appropriate item, if possible, or must be “isolated and his or her parent, guardian or caregiver must be contacted to, without delay, bring [one] for the learner”. If this isn't possible, plans must be made to safely transport the child back home.

You can go to your local park (Regulation 39)

The new regulation allows you to visit parks. However, this is “subject to health protocols”.

Taxis can operate at 100% capacity (Regulation 43)

In what is perhaps a surprise move, but one that seems to show government buckling to pressure, taxis have been allowed to operate at full capacity for local trips. This is defined as anything less than 200km.

For purposes of this regulation 'long distance travel' is a trip of 200km or more. whether the travel is within a province or interprovincial,” subsection 1 of the regulation states.

For long distance trips, a 70% capacity is permitted.

“Bus and taxi services may operate under the following conditions: (a) May not carry more than 70% of the licensed capacity for long distance intra-provincial and permitted interprovincial travel; and (b) may carry 100% of the licensed capacity for any trip not regarded as long distance travel in terms of sub-regulation (1)," the law states.

Punishment for breaking the rules (Regulations 14 & 48)

Regulation 14 deals with specific punishment for those who fail to enforce the wearing of masks within their ambit of operation. Regulation 48 is overarching and deals with people who break the laws themselves.

Regulation 14 states that when those responsible for enforcing the wearing of masks laws fail to do so — whether it be a taxi driver, company owner or school principal — they could face, on conviction, “a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and imprisonment”.

Regulation 48 also hands down the same punishment for those who breach other regulations — that is a fine or imprisonment of no more than six months, or both.