President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the end of the COVID-19 National State of Disaster in South Africa – 750 days since it was first gazetted in March 2020.
In an address to the nation on Monday evening (4 April), Ramaphosa said current conditions “no longer require that we remain in a National State of Disaster.”
Ramaphosa announces end of National State of Disaster
“Going forward, the pandemic will be managed in terms of the National Health Act. The draft Health Regulations have been published for public comment. Once the period for public comment closes on the 16th of April 2022 and the comments have been considered, the new regulations will be finalised and promulgated,” Ramaphosa said.
“Since the requirements for a National State of Disaster to be declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act are no longer met, Cabinet has decided to terminate the National State of Disaster with effect from midnight tonight.”
However, there will be a transitional period during which some regulations will remain in place for “post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation.”
“Accordingly, certain transitional provisions will remain in place for a period of 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,” the President explained.
The Cabinet’s decision means that all COVID-19 disaster regulations that were still in place will be repealed at midnight on Monday, with the exception of the following transitional regulations or directions that will remain in place for 30 days:
- South Africans will still be required to wear a face mask in an indoor public space. A mask is not required when outdoors.
- Existing restrictions on gatherings will continue as a transitional measure. Both indoor and outdoor venues can take up to 50 percent of their capacity without any maximum limit, provided that proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours is required to access the venue. Where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test, then the current upper limit of 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors will remain.
- Existing provisions with respect to international travel remain in place. Travellers entering South Africa will need to show 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 for COVID-19, they will need to isolate for 10 days.
- Directions that provide for the payment of the special R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will remain in place to enable the Department of Social Development to finalise the regulations that will allow the payment of the grant to continue.
- Directions that provide for the extension of the validity of a learner’s licence, driving licence card, licence disc, professional driving permit and registration of a motor vehicle will remain in place.
All other disaster regulations will fall away at midnight on Monday, including regulations on isolation of persons, on schools and access to old age homes, on public transport, on initiation practices, on cargo transportation, and on criminalisation of non-adherence to these rules.
“The end of the National State of Disaster also means that the Coronavirus Alert Levels will no longer apply. The few transitional measures that remain are limited in scope, and allow almost all social and economic activity to resume as normal,” Ramaphosa explained.
“They are essential to reduce the risk of a further COVID-19 wave and further disaster. They also ensure that people can continue to receive their special R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant and that there is no interruption regarding drivers’ licences.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme
One regulation that will stay on “until it has achieved its purpose” is the COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme, which was established in April last year to provide compensation to people who suffer from injury attributable to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The President nevertheless reminded South Africans that vaccination remains the best defence against future COVID-19 waves that could overwhelm health facilities.