Some of SA’s Covid-19 disaster regulations now provide for a lockdown extension beyond 21 days

Business Insider SA

News analysis

South Africa's lockdown is due to end 16 April
  • Two different set of technical government regulations published on Tuesday make provision for South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown to extend past 21 days.
  • Lockdown is due to end on 16 April.
  • But the environment department slipped in a just-in-case clause in its measures dealing with the Covid-19 disaster, and the national treasury is providing for an extra month of leeway in public finance management deadlines. 
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South Africa's lockdown to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is due to end on 16 April, with restrictions on movement and non-essential business activity to lift then.

But apparently not everyone in government is entirely convinced that will be the case.

On Tuesday two different government departments published regulations to deal with the implications of the lockdown on some of their technical functions – with provisions on what will happen if the lockdown is extended.

See also our Covid-19 page, constantly updated with everything we know about the disease in South Africa, and measures to combat it

Departments are firing off masses of sometimes poorly-drafted regulations to deal with everything from how WhatsApp should handle fake news on Covid-19 to what happens when driver's licences expired during the lockdown.

Under the state of disaster declared around the novel coronavirus, those regulations immediately have the force of law.

Forestry, fisheries, and environment minister Barbara Creecy on Tuesday published such regulations to extend timeframes on environmental impact assessments and authorisations on things such as the export of old tyres.

In each case she extended deadlines for the duration of the lockdown, “including any extension to such duration”.

The regulations are also constructed to avoid mentioning 16 April, so that they will not need amendment if the lockdown is extended.

See also | All the financial help available to South Africans during the corona crisis

New regulations from finance minister Tito Mboweni were similarly worded to avoid the need for an update if the national lockdown continues.

Mboweni extended deadlines under the Public Finance Management Act by one month to make provision for the initial planned period of lockdown.

But those deadlines will be extended by another month if "the lock-down regarding the movement of persons and goods as a result of the national state of disaster is extended," the national treasury regulations said.

Lockdown extensions are not uncommon. This week Italy extended its lockdown, which had been due to end on Friday, by at least another nine days. Denmark last week extended its lockdown until after Easter, with plans to lift it gradually, and various European countries are considering longer periods of restrictions, or stricter rules to keep people apart. 

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