The Covid-19 lockdown is finally coming to an end, more than 750 days after the start of the State of Disaster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally ended the more than two-year-long State of Disaster, closing one more chapter of the Covid-19 pandemic story in South Africa. The president announced this on April 4 in his latest address to the nation, sighting the downward trend in relation to new daily infections, Covid-19 deaths and number of patients in ICU. The State of Disaster will be terminated at midnight.

“The end of the National State of Disaster is an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. It is a sign of the progress we have made together and a reminder of what our nation has endured. It is a moment to remember those who have lost their lives and the many people still struggling with the effects of the disease,” said President Ramaphosa.

According to the president, the pandemic will now be managed in accordance with the National Health Act, which will be strengthened by the draft health regulations that have been published for public comment. Once these have been considered, the new regulations will be finalised and promulgated.

President Ramaphosa said, “Certain transitional provisions will remain in place for 30 days after the termination of the National State of Disaster, to ensure essential public health precautions and other necessary services are not interrupted while the new regulations in terms of the National Health Act come into effect.”

These include the following:

  • Members of the public will still be required to wear a face mask in an indoor public space, but not outdoors
  • Both indoor and outdoor venues can take up to 50% of their capacity without any maximum limit, provided proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test not older than 72 hours is required for entrance
  •  Where there is no proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test, the current upper limit of 1000 people indoors and 2000 people outdoors will remain in place
  •  International travellers entering the country will need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours
  •  If a traveller does not submit a vaccine certificate or proof of a negative Covid-19 test, they will be required to do an antigen test on arrival. If they test positive, they will need to isolate for 10 day
  •  The directions that provide for the payment of the special R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant will remain in place
  •  Directions are provided for the extension of the validity of a learner’s licence, driving license card, professional driving permit and registration of a motor vehicle will remain in place.

These will automatically lapse after a period of 30 days while all other regulations will be terminated tonight. These include regulations on isolation of persons, on schools and access to old age homes, on public transport and initiation practices, and on criminalisation of non-adherence to these rules. There will also no longer be any Covid-19 alert levels, including the Level 1 we are currently on. Ramaphosa stated, “These transitional measures will lapse after 30 days, and will allow the management of the pandemic to be dealt with as appropriate by the health regulations or other provisions.”

The State of Disaster was officially declared on March 15 2020 as South Africa prepared to enter into a hard lockdown in response to the country’s first cases of Covid-19. To date, South Africa has had a cumulative total of 3 723 639 positive cases, with 100 052 people officially having lost their lives to the virus.

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