On 4 May 2022, the Minister of Health, Dr MJ Phaahla published the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions: Amendment (Regulations) in terms of sections 90(1)(j), (k) and (w) of the National Health Act 61 of 2003 (NHA). The Regulations came into effect upon publication.
Information and Implications
Regulation 16 of the regulations published on 15 December 2017 (2017 Regulations) in terms of the NHA, was amended by inserting Regulations 16A to 16C, focusing in particular on mask mandates, gatherings and the regulation of persons entering the country.
Notably the definition for gatherings now does not exclude the workplace, and the inclusion of a meeting for economic purposes may well indicate an explicit inclusion thereof.
The regulation regulates indoor and outdoor gatherings as follows:
• where those in attendance are vaccinated or in possession of a negative COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours: the venue may not exceed 50% capacity; and
• where those in attendance are unvaccinated or not in possession of a negative COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours: the gatherings are restricted to 1,000 people or less for indoor venues or 50% of the maximum capacity (whichever is smaller) and 2,000 people or less for outdoor venues or 50% of maximum capacity (once again, whichever is smaller).
The regulation allows accommodation establishments to reach full capacity of the rooms available for accommodation, provided that patrons wear face masks in common areas. The regulation only excludes basic education institutions from the total reach of its provisions.
Regulation 16C provides that any person entering the country must produce proof of vaccination, a negative PCR COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours at the time of departure, a negative antigen COVID-19 test not older than 48 hours at the time of departure, or a positive PCR test not older than 90 days and at least 10 days old at the date of arrival, accompanied by a signed letter from a registered health official stating that the person has fully recovered from COVID-19.
If a traveler fails to comply with the above, they will need to take an antigen test upon arrival. If the test result is positive, the person may still be admitted, on the further condition that they will isolate if symptomatic.
This regulation excludes children under 12 years old and daily commuters from neighboring countries. It also confers powers on the Minister similar to those conferred by 16A and 16B.
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