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Face masks remain mandatory indoors. Picture: 123RF/ALEKSEY SATYRENKO/Stock photo.
Face masks remain mandatory indoors. Picture: 123RF/ALEKSEY SATYRENKO/Stock photo.

The health department has extended the deadline for public comment on the proposed Covid-19 regulations by three months.

Health minister Joe Phaahla gazetted the extension late on Wednesday night, shortly before the interim measures were due to expire.

The regulations relate to the surveillance and control of notifiable medical conditions, public measures in points of entry, and management of human remains and environmental health.

They are intended to manage Covid-19 and other notifiable conditions outside the Disaster Management Act.

Phaahla said the wearing of face masks indoors remained mandatory. Anyone using public transport is also required to wear masks while on board. Rules on international travel and indoor gatherings also remain in force.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had, at the beginning of April, ended the national state of disaster. However, he said some restrictions would be in effect until new rules were published to manage the transmission of the coronavirus in high-risk places.

Phaahla said the extension, to July 5, was in line with statutory requirements and would afford the department sufficient time to go through and consider all comments and representations on the regulations.

“Despite the current process to source public comments on the health regulations,” he cautioned, “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. Covid-19 remains a life-threatening disease, and the country is not yet out of the woods,” he said.

“The only way we can protect ourselves and our loved ones against this pandemic and the current rising number of positive cases, is through vaccination and adhering to preventive measures at all times. Fully vaccinated people are urged to consider booster shots to increase their immunity.”

Regulations in a nutshell

A person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask. This does not apply to children at school. 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 against Covid-19 and produces a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, attendees must produce a valid negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours before the date of the gathering.

If complying with this indoor gathering requirement is not possible, then attendance will be limited to 1,000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller, while the attendance at an outdoor gathering will be limited to 2,000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller.

All international travellers arriving at SA 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 more than 48 hours before the date of departure.

In a case where 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, then he/she must undergo antigen testing at the port of entry. If the traveller is experiencing symptoms of Covid-­19, they must self-isolate for a period of 10 days after admission into SA.

The vaccination or testing requirement is not applicable to travellers who are under the age of 12 years and daily commuters from neighbouring countries.

TimesLIVE

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