Relaxed Covid 19 regulations a concern ahead of Easter Holidays

On Monday, Dlamini-Zuma published the new gazette that confirms the move to lockdown level 1, after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Sunday.

Ramaphosa said the country had emerged from the second wave, with fewer than 10,000 new Covid-19 infections recorded in the past week compared to December last year and January.

He said due to the steady decline in infections, social, political, religious and cultural gatherings were now allowed and the curfew is now from 12pm to 4am. 

Outlining activities that are still banned under level 1, Dlamini-Zuma stressed that several acts of defiance can still result in penalties.

“All district municipalities must, after consultation with its local municipalities in its area, alert communities within that district of the increasing number of infections that could lead to that district being declared a hotspot,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

“Industries, businesses and entities, both private and in the public sector, must operate within the alert level 1 regulations as gazetted. All people attending gatherings should endeavour to limit exposure to Covid-19 by adhering to all protocols and regulations.”

Dlamini-Zuma called on citizens to observe all the necessary Covid-19 health protocols and remaining restrictions to avert a possible resurgence.

Here is what can get you arrested under level 1 lockdown:

Breaking curfew

Breaking curfew without a valid reason or no permit is an offence and a person is liable to a fine or a period of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both.

Businesses exceeding the maximum number of customers 

Businesses whose premises exceed the maximum number of customers and employees will be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both.

Failing to wear a face mask

Any person failing to comply with a verbal instruction by an enforcement officer to wear a face mask is also liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both.

Taxis and buses exceeding 70% capacity

Long-distance bus and taxi drivers could face imprisonment of not more than six months for exceeding 70% capacity.

Booze consumption in public

The consumption of liquor in public places such as beaches and parks, except in licensed on-site consumption premises, is not permitted and is an offence that could lead to imprisonment not exceeding six months

Preventing a police officer from doing their job 

Any person who hinders, interferes with, or obstructs a law enforcement officer exercising his or her powers or the performance of his or her duties in terms of the regulations, is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) on Monday welcomed the decision to move the country to lockdown level 1, saying this would open the door for political party campaigning.

Later in 2021, the country will go to the polls for the local government elections. But before then, several by-elections have been scheduled for next month and mid-May.

In a statement on Monday, the commission said that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday night that the country would move to level 1 `“has opened the way for the resumption of some political activities”.

Gatherings of 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events are now permitted under the new Covid-19 regulations.

“The relaxation of the restrictions paves the way for the holding of by-elections for municipal ward vacancies which arose since the last by-election in early December. The outstanding by-elections scheduled to be held on April 21 and May 19 will help to ‘clear the decks’ of vacancies ahead of the local government elections scheduled for between August 4 and November 1,” the statement said.

According to the commission, 45 by-elections across 37 municipalities in all nine provinces were scheduled in the next two months. In total, 362,431 registered voters would be affected by the by-elections.

“The resumption of by-elections is therefore one of the final opportunities ahead of the local government elections for the commission, political parties, independent candidates and other stakeholders to test their protocols for campaigning, voter registration, voting and counting of ballots while maintaining Covid-19 safety measures,” it said.

The commission said it was able to conduct free, fair and safe by-elections in November and December last year during the previous level 1 restrictions and remained confident “it can conduct further by-elections under the same conditions”.

The relaxing of the pandemic rules and regulations are a concern especially with Easter Holidays beckoning, that could cause a third-wave.

Image (Come rain or shine. Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Leaders Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma outlined the regulations following the relaxation of Covid-19 measures).

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