On 16 September 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of the risk-adjusted strategy of the national lockdown to Alert Level 1, which commenced at midnight on 20 September 2020.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, published the gazetted Alert Level 1 Regulations on 18 September 2020 (“the Regulations”) and some of the notable amendments to the Alert Level 2 restrictions set out in the Regulations are as follows:
The Regulations read as follows:
“All persons who are able to work from home must do so. However, persons will be permitted to perform any type of work outside the home, and to travel to and from work, and for work purposes, under Alert Level 1.”
Subject to the operational requirements of the employment and given the fact that the Regulations do not specifically list the sectors or industries exempted from the application of the above provisions, employees are encouraged to continue working from home unless it is reasonable for the employer, due to the nature of the work performed, to require that employees, or certain employees, return to the workplace.
The continued efficacy of an employee continuing to work from home should be at the employer’s discretion and not merely because of the employee being wary of returning to the workplace for fear of contracting Covid- 19.
Further, the Regulations record the following at paragraph (c) of Table 4:
“(c) the return to work being done in a manner that avoids and reduces risks of infection.”
Therefore, the employer should ensure that all persons physically present in the workplace follow all necessary health and safety protocols and further should ensure that the necessary measures are put in place to reintroduce more employees in the workplace. The latter can be achieved through, amongst other things, a plan for the phasing-in of employees returning to the workplace or staggered shift systems.
Operation of The Economic Sector:
The Alert level 1 Regulations seek to revive the South African economic sector as most businesses may now operate, expect for those specified in the exclusions listed in Table 4 of the Regulations. The relevant sector- specific health protocols and social distancing measures set out in the relevant Directions must be strictly adhered to in order to limit and/or prevent the spread of COVID -19 in the sector concerned.
Under the Alert level 1 Regulations, travel is no longer only restricted to domestic travel and the Regulations further permit for the reopening and travel across local boarders.
Furthermore, international air travel for South Africans in and out of the country for either business, leisure or any other travel purposes, is once again permitted but is however limited to a list of certain countries and only through one of the main airports. These airports have been specified as being:
- King Shaka International Airport;
- OR Tambo International Airport; and
- Cape Town International Airport.
In order to be permitted to travel, the traveller needs to adhere to the protocol set out in Regulation 75 (3) of the Regulations which reads as follows:
“(3) From 1 October 2020, all travellers from the African Continent and from countries outside the African Continent with a low rate of COVID -19 infection and transmission, will resume subject to-
(a) the traveller providing a valid certificate of a negative test which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel; and
(b) in the event of the traveller’s failure to submit a certificate as proof of a negative test, the traveller will be required to quarantine at his or her own costs.”
Furthermore, in anticipation of the reopening of the borders, visa services have resumed at all Visa Facilitation Services which allow for visa applications to be processed once again.
Although personal movement is no longer restricted, it is encouraged that the travel be limited to essential travel.
In terms of the Regulations, gatherings are now subject to a maximum limit of 250 people or less for indoor gatherings, and 500 persons or less for outdoor gatherings, provided that no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the relevant venue is used and the social distancing measures as contemplated by Regulation 69 complied with. These measures are as follows:
- Wearing a face mask;
- Adhering to all health protocols;
- Maintaining a distance of at least one and a half meters from each other; and
- Adhere to any other health protocols and social distancing measures as provided for in Directions.
All safety protocols, social distancing, sanitation and hygiene guidelines that have been implemented since the commencement of the national lockdown still need to be adhered to, as per the National Department of Health, throughout Alert level 1, to ensure that the country is not subjected to a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
For further information on the topics discussed in this article, please do not hesitate to contact one of our able attorneys at the contact details provided for on our website, or alternatively the Regulation can be viewed at the following link. https://www.gov.za/covid-19/about/coronavirus-covid-19-alert-level-1