December lockdown rules just became law, with new details about what could land you in jail
- The new lockdown regulations for the festive season were gazetted on Tuesday morning.
- The regulations include threats of fines and/or jailtime of six months for specific transgressions.
- The new rules state that if people contravene regulations at beaches and parks that are still open, these will be closed.
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On Tuesday morning, government gazetted the new regulations for the festive season (until 3 January) that are effective immediately.
Here are the new nationwide regulations, aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.
Municipalities must warn residents that they are becoming hotspots
The new regulations compel all district municipalities to publish on their websites and in the local media information about areas with high infection rates within the district. The notices must be updated as soon as new information becomes available.
District municipalities must “alert communities within that district of the increasing number of infections that could lead to that district being declared a hotspot”.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that two district municipalities – the Garden Route and Sarah Baartman – have been added to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality as hotspot areas, which are governed by stricter rules.
See also | Here’s how rules (don't) differ (much) between the new hotspots and the rest of South Africa
While the curfew starts at 22:00 in hotspot areas, in the rest of the country, everyone must be in their place of residence from 23:00 until 04:00 daily.
The only exceptions are for those who have been “granted permission through directions by the relevant cabinet member or have a permit” to perform an essential service. Those attending to a security or medical emergency are also allowed out outside of curfew.
Early closing times
Outside of hotspots, closing time for all kinds of venues (whether indoors or outdoors) is 22:00 daily.
These include faith-based institutions, venues where social events are hosted, venues hosting concerts and live performances, cinemas, theatres, casinos, gyms and swimming pools, restaurants, bars, taverns and shebeens, as well as venues hosting sport events.
The regulations also state that “any other place where a gathering may take place" must close at 22:00.
Threat of fine and/or jailtime
The new regulations specify that any person who doesn’t adhere to specific regulations – including being out outside of the curfew, attending live music performances at the beach or consuming liquor in a public place – is liable for a fine, or jailtime of up to six months, or both.
Businesses that, for example, allow more than the maximum allowed number of people on their premises, or sell liquor outside of the restricted hours, will face the same penalties.
The regulations reiterate that masks are mandatory for every person when in a public place.
No person will be allowed to use, operate or perform any service on any form of public transport without one. You also can’t be in any building or premises, or in any other public open space without a cloth face mask, homemade item, or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth.
Only those undertaking “vigorous exercise” in a public place will be allowed without a mask, provided you keep a distance of at least one and a half metres from any other person.
Retail sales of alcohol will only be allowed from 10:00 to 18:00 on Mondays to Thursdays. This does not apply to duty-free shops, and registered wineries and wine farms may continue to sell alcohol during the same hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
In restaurants, bars and shebeens, alcohol may be served until 22:00, in line with the curfew.
Attendance of a funeral is limited to a maximum of 100 persons, with persons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other. If the venue is too small to hold persons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other, then not more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used.
Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings, including "after- tears" gatherings are banned
Owners or operators of any indoor or outdoor facilities for gatherings must display the certificate of occupancy which sets out the maximum number of persons the facility may hold.
Gatherings at indoor venues are limited to 100 people. If the venue is too small to hold 100 persons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other, then not more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used.
Outdoor venues are limited to 250 people.
Gatherings include faith-based institutions, social events, political events and traditional council meetings, conferences and meetings, concerts and live performances, cinemas and theatres, casinos, sports grounds and fields, shebeens, bars, museums, galleries, gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools as well as conferencing, dining, entertainment and bar facilities. Auctions are allowed under the same capacity rules.
The regulation states that where “an enforcement officer” finds that a gathering is taking place that doesn’t comply with the rules, he or she must order people to disperse immediately. If they don’t, the officer may arrest and detain any person at the gathering.
Beach closures and restrictions
Beaches in the Eastern Cape, and in the Garden Route District, will be closed to the public from 16 December until 3 January.
All beaches in KwaZulu-Natal will be closed to the public on 16, 25, 26 and 31 December 2020 and 1, 2 and 3 January 2021.
Beaches in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape provinces (excluding the Garden Route District beaches) will be open, but only between 09:00 and 18:00.
Festivals, live music, live performances and loud music at beaches are prohibited, and the beaches will be monitored for mask-wearing and social distancing measures.
“Non-compliance with the prohibitions, conditions, days of opening of beaches, and wearing of face masks and social distancing measures, will result in the closure of those non-complying beaches throughout the festive season.”
The closure of beaches and restrictions on times of operation do not apply to fishermen for fishing purposes, who have a permit or exemption.
Access to national and provincial parks, and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place, will remain open to the public.
But public parks in the Eastern Cape will be closed from 16 December 2020 until 3 January 2021, and in KwaZulu-Natal on 16, 25, 26 and 31 December 2020 and 1, 2 and 3 January 2021.
Public parks that are allowed to open can only be accessed between 09:00 and 18:00, and any loud music, whether live or otherwise, is prohibited.
If people use parks outside of these hours, or don’t wear masks, or don’t social distance, parks may be closed throughout the festive season, the regulations warn.
Guest restrictions at hotels and guest houses
The number of persons allowed in hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, timeshare facilities, resorts and guest houses are restricted to no more than 50 percent of the available accommodation capacity, with patrons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other.
No spectators are allowed at the venue of a sports match.
Initiation practices are prohibited nationally, except in the Eastern Cape, excluding Nelson Mandela Bay, from 17 December 2020.
Strict health guidelines must be followed and all post-initiation celebrations ("imigidi') are prohibited. “The National House of Traditional Leaders and provincial houses of traditional leaders must take steps to ensure that traditional leaders are aware of the content of this regulation,” the regulations state.
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