Following the declaration by President on 15 April 2020 that the national lockdown will be extended by two weeks, various amendments to the existing lockdown Regulations were published on 16 April 2020 (“the Amendments”). These amendments will govern private and commercial transactions and restrictions until the lockdown is lifted, which for now is set as being on 01 May 2020.  This article will briefly discuss the most relevant of these amendments and their impact.

Firstly, the new Regulation 7 suspends and prohibits any public visits to Correctional Centers, Remand Detention Facilities, Holding Cells, Military Detention Facilities and Department of Social Development facilities which include Child and Youth Care Centers, shelters, One Stop Centers, and Treatment Centres, until the lifting of the national lockdown. This period may naturally be liable to extension if a further lengthening of the national lockdown period is ordered.

Secondly, the blanket prohibition on the transportation of alcohol products has been minimally relaxed by the substitution of the previous Regulation 8 by allowing for the transportation of alcohol products in the limited circumstances where the use of alcohol is required for industries producing hand sanitizers, disinfectants, soap, alcohol for industrial use and household cleaning products.

The Amendments also provide an easing of the lockdown Regulations relevant to the ports and mining sectors which signifies the first step in the executive’s plan of phasing in the South African economy in staggered stages. Ports will be re-opened in order to allow transportation of cargo from ports of entry to their intended destination within the RSA. In addition, cargo currently held at ports of entry may be exported to ease congestion at the ports. Mining operations may commence at a reduced capacity of no more than 50% until such time that the lockdown is lifted. After that date the industry may increase capacity as determined by a Direction issued by the responsible Minister. This relaxation is conditional upon the mining industry implementing vigorous screening, preventative and sanitary measures in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and as detailed in the Amendments.

The new Regulation 11B(1)(g) permits stores selling hardware products and vehicle components to recommence their operations on condition that these entities maintain a register of persons buying such goods and further provided that they keep a record of signed declarations completed by these buyers. These declarations will serve to attest that the goods purchased from these enterprises are essential goods as defined in the Regulations.

Further on this topic, the list of essential services (which sets out which sectors may operate commercially during the national lockdown) has been expanded to include the following:

  1. Hardware, components and supplies required by any qualified tradespersons solely for the purpose of emergency repairs at residential homes;
  2. Hardware, components and supplies required by any entity engaged in the provision of essential services for any project related to the provision of water, electricity or other essential services; and
  3. Components for vehicles undergoing emergency repairs where such vehicle is used by a person engaged in essential services work.

The Amendments further include the following paragraphs 34, 35 and 36 in the list of essential services:

34        Trades necessary for the rendering of emergency repair work, including plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, glaziers and roof repair work;

  1. Trades necessary for emergency automobile repairs for persons rendering essential services; and
  2. Information and Communication Technology services rendered to entities and institutions engaged in delivering essential services in terms of these Regulations.

The Amendments have further provided clarity in relation to the movement of children between the households of parents who hold co-parenting responsibilities and rights, including caregivers. The Amendments cement the contents of Directives published by the Minister for Social Development on 07 April 2020 which allow the movement of children between households such as those discussed above, provided that the co-parenting rights or responsibilities stem from a valid court order, parenting plan or parental rights and responsibility agreement.

Moreover, paragraph 5 of the list of essential services which allows grocery stores, wholesale produce markets, spaza shops and informal food traders to trade on condition that informal traders specifically obtain written permission from a municipal authority to operate, has been amended. The amended Regulation 5 includes langanas (which term refers to informal fish traders) and further extends the obligation to obtain permission to trade to spaza shops in addition to informal fruit and vegetable traders. Any permits obtained before or during the declared national state of disaster and which fall due during this period, will remain valid for a period of one month after the end of the national state of disaster.

The final noteworthy amendment relates to the introduction of Regulation 11CA which states that no person may be evicted from their place of residence, regardless of whether it is a formal or informal residence or a farm dwelling, for the duration of the lockdown.

We will continue to monitor the latest amendments to existing Regulations and the publishing of new Regulations to ensure that our clients are fully apprised of the latest legal developments in our country. We will regularly update the articles published on our website in this regard. For any further questions on the practical implications of the Amendments, please do not hesitate to engage with us.