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Level 1: Four new ‘law changes’ come into effect this week

The government has announced a set of updates for our Level 1 lockdown laws, including directives for workplaces, religious gatherings and travel. about us

Photo: Unsplash

As we approach the third week of Level 1 restrictions, the dreaded resurgence of COVID-19 infections doesn’t seem to have taken place since we moved to our lightest form of lockdown. But, with that in mind, there are still new laws being changed, amended, and introduced at different stages of this Alert Phase.

When President Ramaphosa announced we’d be moving to Level 1 in the middle of last month, it was confirmed that some changes – such as permissions for international travel – would only come into effect from Thursday 1 October. In the past 48 hours, those ‘laws’ have now been officially gazetted, and here are your updated lockdown regulations.

Level 1 law changes: Four new regulations for October 2020

International events and sporting fixtures can take place – if they don’t involve ‘high-risk’ countries

The newly published rules in the Government Gazette essentially tell us everything we need to know:

“Sport, arts, and cultural activities, including both professional and non-professional matches, by recognised sporting bodies, are allowed under certain conditions during Level 1.”

“International sport, arts, and cultural events involving countries with a low or medium COVID -19 infection and transmission rate are permitted. But events involving countries with a high COVID-19 infection rate and transmission rate are prohibited.”

The rules for religious gatherings have been expanded

  • No more than 50% of the capacity of the venue can be used, to the maximum occupancy of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.
  • Persons must observe a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other.
  • Religious organisations have been encouraged to conduct services online during Level 1, to reduce the threat of transmission, and to include those who are self-isolating or vulnerable to the worst effects of this virus.
  • A religious gathering CAN operate a single service with indoor and outdoor activities – as long as there is at least one hour between each individual event.
  • Handshaking and hugging in these places remain off-limits, as does taking communion and the sharing of foods or liquids.
  • Contact tracing will be enforced at every venue, and no rituals involving human contact can take place.

Updated rules for the workplace at Level 1

If you’re an employer, you’ll need to get to grips with this 28-page document. It lists every single workplace requirement for the age of COVID-19, with a few updates for October 2020. Although the Labour Department’s directive is largely a consolidation of previous laws, it does set in stone the requirement for workplaces to ‘stagger shifts’ and arrange remote working opportunities:

“A workplace must, as far as practicable, minimise the number of workers at the workplace at any given time through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements, or similar measures in order to achieve social distancing as far as possible. These rules remain in effect during the State of Disaster.”

There are A LOT of new transport rules

Truck drivers, sea crews, and the aviation industry have all been issued with separate directives this week – which can be found here: Specific rules for crossing our borders through all possible ports, of land, sea, and air, became official on Thursday. Here are the rules set out by Fikile Mbalula:

Entering SA by sea

  • Signing-on crew must produce a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate or a valid certificate of COVID-19 negative test results, obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel, when entering SA.
  • All passenger ships for international leisure purposes are prohibited from disembarking any international passengers – unless there’s an emergency.
  • Foreign crews may layover at a designated quarantine facility for a period not exceeding seven days, at their own cost.

Entering SA by land:

  • Cross-border freight transport and logistics in respect of specified cargo and permitted retail goods is allowed.
  • Leisure travel is allowed for anyone entering South Africa from the rest of the continent.
  • All drivers of cross-border transport vehicles must wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth. No person can enter the Republic without wearing one.

Entering SA by air:

  • Only three airports will be open for international travel: OR Tambo, Cape Town International, and King Shaka.
  • International travellers will be assessed according to a scale of high, medium, and low risk.
  • No leisure travel from high-risk countries is allowed. Only those on high-skilled visas or investors from these places can enter.
  • Travellers must provide the address of their stay on arrival.
  • All visitors must have travel insurance.
  • Those coming into Mzansi must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test from within the past 72 hours.
  • Airlines from high-risk countries aren’t banned, but their crew will be required to isolate in facilities at designated accommodation.