On June 17, 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced government’s intention to further ease the lockdown restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, allowing more industries to re-open fully under stringent health and safety protocols. This announcement comes two weeks after the government de-escalated the country from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 pursuant to the Risk Adjustment Strategy on June 1, 2020. The de-escalation of the Alert levels is partly in response to the negative impact that the prolonged National State of Disaster—announced on March 11, 2020, has had on the economy, as well as on individual livelihoods.Following discussions with industry representatives, the COVID-19 National Command Council (“NCC”), Cabinet and Premiers, the following will now be permitted:
- Sit-down meals in restaurants;
- Accredited and licensed accommodations, (but still no home sharing such as AirBnB);
- Conferences and meetings for business purposes in line with restrictions on public gatherings;
- Cinemas and theatres, to be aligned to limitations on gathering of persons;
- Personal care services, including hairdressers and beauty services;
- Non-contact sports such as golf, tennis, cricket and others. Contact sports will be allowed only for training and modified activities with restricted use of facilities.
The government will in due course issue details regarding such measures, including the date from which these industries will be permitted to reopen.
President Ramaphosa further announced a breakthrough in the treatment of COVID-19, led by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The study found that the drug dexamethasone, has been shown to reduce deaths among patients on ventilation by one-third. Therefore, South Africa’s Department of Health and the Ministry Advisory Committee have since recommended the use of dexamethasone for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
As Chair of the African Union, President Ramaphosa highlighted South Africa’s involvement in forging a common approach across the continent to ensure, among other things, the effective mobilization of resources and the implementation of associated strategies. These include the ground-breaking Africa Medical Suppliers Portal: a single continental marketplace where African countries can access critical medical supplies (including test kits), from suppliers and manufacturers in Africa and across the world, in the necessary quantities, and at competitive prices.
Over the next few days, we anticipate that government will announce further details on the dates on which the easing of further restrictions will take effect, including the necessary regulations and/or amendments to existing regulations, to give effect to and provide directives to affected sectors.
The NCC will continue to make determinations on the applicable Alert Level based on an assessment of the infection rate and the capacity of our healthcare system to provide care to infected patients.
For further information, please reach out to Covington’s COVID-19 Task Force at COVID19@cov.com, Robert Kayihura at RKayihura@cov.com or Mosa Mkhize at MMkhize@cov.com
This post can also be found on CovAfrica, the firm’s blog on legal, regulatory, political and economic developments in Africa.