Regulations on COVID-19 by President Ramaphosa

President Ramaphosa talking about new regulations around COVID-19

Shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Sunday, further restrictions in the bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 were put in place.

Using powers conferred upon government in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, the state has implemented far reaching laws which will affect several industries and consumers.

Thus, as of the 19th of March, all establishments which conduct the sale of alcohol, including liquor stores will be obligated to only conduct business between 09:00 and 18:00 on weekdays and between 09:00 and 13:00 on weekends and public holidays. There is a further caveat: This only applies to establishments with less than 50 patrons at any given time. If it exceeds 50 patrons, it should remain closed. This law is contained in Section 8 of the amended act. Furthermore, no special or events liquor licenses will be granted during the duration of the national state of disaster.

The act has several notable amendments, including but not limited to the release of resources from the Department of Defense and National Organs of State.[1]

Of particular importance is Section 4, which regulates refusal of medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine. In essence the section goes on to state that any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or has been in contact with someone who has, has no right of refusal in circumstances of submission of that person to a medical examination, admission of that person to a health establishment or a quarantine or isolation site. If one does not abide by the above, a warrant will be issued which seeks to place the subject into quarantine or self-isolation.

The act has further criminalised the below acts with punishments of a period of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months and/or a fine. The convictions are as follows:

  • convenes a gathering;
  • permits more than 50 persons at premises where liquor is sold and consumed; or
  • hinders, interferes with, or obstructs an enforcement officer in the exercise of his or her powers, or the performance of his or her duties in terms of these Regulations,
  • Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with COVID-19.
  • Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about-
    • COVID-19;
    • COVID-19 infection status of any person; or
    • any measure taken by the Government to address COVID-19.[2]        

Lastly, and perhaps the most pertinent punishment, is that any person who intentionally exposes another person to COVID-19 may be prosecuted for an offence, including assault, attempted murder or murder.[3]

It is evident that from this swift promulgation and publication of this amendment that the Government is intent on utilising its full range of powers conferred upon them by law to curb the spread of COVID-19.

[1]              Disaster management Act 57 of 2002, Section 2.

[2]              Disaster management Act 57 of 2002, Section 11.

[3]              Disaster management Act 57 of 2002, Section 11(6).