Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has extended the period for public comments on health regulations by three months to 5 July.
According to the department, this extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to go through and consider all comments and representations on the regulations.
In the meantime, the department has gazetted the limited regulations for implementation with effect from Thursday, 05 May 2022.
These regulations mainly focus on wearing of face masks, gatherings and persons entering the country.
With regards to wearing a face mask, a person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask.
This does not apply to children at school. According to the gazetted regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask.
For any indoor and outdoor gatherings, a maximum of 50% of the venue capacity may be occupied provided that every attendee is vaccinated and produces a valid vaccination certificate.
Alternatively, attendees must produce a valid negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours prior to the date of the gathering.
“If complying with this indoor gathering requirement is not possible, then attendance shall be limited to 1000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller, while the attendance at an outdoor gathering shall be limited to 2000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller,” said the department.
All international travellers arriving at South African Ports of Entry must be vaccinated against Covid-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate; or produce a valid negative PCR Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours before the date of departure.
“Alternatively, travellers have another option of producing a valid negative antigen Covid-19 test result performed by a medical practitioner, registered public health authority or accredited/approved laboratory obtained not older than 48 hours before the date of departure,” said the department.
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If an international traveller is unable to produce a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test result older than 72 hours or a negative antigen test result obtained at least 48 hours prior departure, they must undergo antigen testing at the Port of Entry.
“If the person tests positive for Covid-19 in the antigen test, the traveller will still be admitted into the country but, if the traveller is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, they must self-isolate a period of ten days after admission into South Africa,” said the deaprtment.
According to the regulations, the vaccination or testing requirement is not applicable to travellers who are under the age of 12 years and daily commuters from neighbouring countries.
“It is important to emphasise that the proposed amendments to the health regulations do not amend the National Health Act, 2003 but rather augment certain existing regulations.
“The Department would like to remind people that, despite the current process to source public comments on the health regulations, there is still an imperative to provide options to manage the Covid-19 pandemic and other notifiable medical conditions without invoking the state of national disaster.
“Therefore, members of the public are reminded that Covid-19 remains a life-threatening disease, and the country is not yet out of the woods.”
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde