As calls mount to do away with the national state of disaster, President Cyril Ramaphosa says new health regulations that are meant to replace the lockdown regulations have been published.
The president told parliament on Thursday that public consultations with leaders from different sectors of society are under way and that he will address the nation on the process in the coming days.
The department of health this week published the proposed health regulations to deal with Covid-19 and other notifiable medical conditions outside the national state of disaster, which has been in force for two years.
Government is calling for public comments after it controversially extended the disaster regulations until mid-April. Under the new roles, all people entering or exiting South Africa should present negative Covid test results not older than 72 hours, but only in the event that they do not have a full vaccination certificate. This repeals the current requirement of negative test results for all incoming travellers, with or without a vaccination certificate.
As part of efforts to manage transmission during large gatherings considered to be possible superspreader events, the regulations propose the restriction of night vigils and after-funeral gatherings. Indoor and outdoor gatherings may be occupied up to 50% of the venue capacity provided there is production of a valid vaccine certificate, social distancing of at least one metre and compulsory wearing of masks.
The attendance of indoor gatherings without proof of vaccination will be limited to a thousand people and 2 000 for outdoor events with social distancing of at least a metre of social distancing.
“I want to see the state of disaster coming to an end but I am not going to be reckless and I am going be orderly and, [with]in days, I am going to address the nation and explain precisely where we are headed to and how we should traverse this new route that we are going on,” Ramaphosa said.
Asked why government has kept stadiums closed from the general public during sports games, the President said vaccine hesitancy was the main reason as government relies on scientific advice before it can take any steps.
“Many countries around the world are exactly where we are and those countries that have opened up their stadiums to 100% participation, they are at 70 and 80% vaccination.
There are certain measures that will need to be kept in place in order to enable government to manage the pandemic, Ramaphosa added. “Covid-19 has not suddenly just disappeared through the door or the window, and we are still concerned about those people who get infected; who get hospitalised and who die.”