COVID-19 Updates in lockdown regulations 01 April 2020

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has issued a series of updates to the regulations in action during the national lockdown to facilitate better access to transport to vulnerable persons in response to citizens having difficulty finding transport to collect social grants.

According to government gazette 43183 (30Mar2020), “Busses and taxis shall be permitted to operate from 05h00 to 20h00 in order to cater the transport needs of South Africans most vulnerable which is effective from 30 March 2020 until 03 April 2020.”

A further amendment extends the period of validity for driver’s and vehicles for the period of the lockdown, and further 30 days grace period from the date of the end of the lockdown period. Motor Trade number licenses are extended a grace period of 6 months from the date of the end of the lockdown period. Licensing and vehicle test centres will remain closed for the lockdown.

The designation of essential workers have also been extended to include:

  • Tollgate operators
  • Road Emergency operators
  • Employees responsible for safe operation of the roads
  • Rail logistics operators

Government gazette 43186 (30Mar2020) grants a grace period to taxis to proceed to and from the pick-up points an hour before the designated times, without loading passengers, as set out in the Disaster Management act. Taxis are permitted to collect and return essential workers from 05h00 to 10h00 and 16h00 to 22h00. The amendment continues to say that private institutions or companies may plan transport for their essential workers (as listed in Annexure B of the Disaster Management act) to be in line with operating shifts and work time schedules. These operating shifts or work schedules must be stamped and signed by the responsible person.

This amendment also increases the permitted load capacity of minibus taxis to 70 % where no masks are required, meaning a taxi with a licensed capacity of 10 persons may carry 7, a capacity of 15 may carry 10 and a capacity of 22 may carry 15. In all cases the allowed number of persons in the vehicle includes the driver. A vehicle licensed for 4 persons is still limited to a 50 % permitted load capacity, meaning only 2 persons may be in the vehicle including the driver. However, during the lockdown period a minibus taxi will be permitted to carry a full load as licensed provided all persons in the vehicle is wearing either a surgical or N95 mask.

Government Gazette 43189 (30Mar2020) extends the ban on all local and international flights irrespective of the risk status of the country of origin except where granted specific permission by the Minister of Transport to evacuate South African citizens in foreign countries. Repatriation is allowed only where the foreign countries charter an aircraft to South Africa without passengers but with a crew – whom will not be allowed to disembark the plane in South Africa. South African citizens who wish to return to the country during this time will be permitted to do so provided:

  1. They have a fully paid return flight ticket, and
  2. They will submit to a mandatory quarantine period of up to 21 days.

The following technical flights are allowed:

  1. Medical Evacuation flights – these flights should not carry passengers except patients and crew who, upon disembarking, will be subject to the mandatory quarantine laws as are applicable.
  2. Aircraft in a state of emergency
  3. Overflights
  4. Technical landings for refuelling – these flights are allowed provided no passengers are allowed to disembark the plane.
  5. Aircraft operations related to humanitarian aid, relief flights and other safety related operations.

The following airports must have operation staff on standby to receive aircraft in distress:

  • Port Elizabeth
  • Bram Fisher
  • Upington
  • Polokwane
  • Kruger Mpumalanga

Flight Cargo crew will be permitted to disembark on the condition that they will be subject to quarantine laws as applicable.

Government Gazette 43183
Government Gazette 43186
Government Gazette 43189

COVID-19: Clothing industry reaches agreement on payment of wages

An collective agreement by the Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry regarding the payment of wages to employees in the clothing sector during the national lock down to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, has been extended to non-parties in the industry by the Minister of Employment and Labour, with effect from 26 March 2020.

The primary aim of this agreement is to ensure that workers are not left to face the lock down period without income. The clothing manufacturing industry agrees that it cannot be left up to government alone to address the impact of the lock down on industry and employees and will play a supportive role in this effort.

This agreement is in effect as of 26 March 2020 and determines that employers in the industry and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will take turns to pay the employees’ weekly wages for a provided 6-week period despite the lock down period being only 3 weeks long.

Payments will be scheduled as follows:

Week 1

The employer will pay deferred wages for work performed during the week prior to the lock down.

Week 2

a – The employer will pay deferred wages for work performed      during the week of the lock down,

b – The balance of the wages will consist of workers’ funds received from the UIF in cases where the lock down started before a full week’s work was performed.

Week 3

The employer will pay a full week’s wages.

Week 4

Worker’s funds from the UIF will pay a full week’s wages.

Week 5

The employer will pay a full week’s wages.

Week 6

Worker’s funds from the UIF will pay a full week’s wages.

All payments due to employees from the employer during the first two weeks shall be paid to employees, irrespective of whether funds were received from the UIF. All normal statutory deductions shall also continue to be effected during this 6-week period.


COVID-19: National State of Emergency now official, regulations gazetted

Government, represented by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has signed a off on measures to be implemented in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. These measures concern all government departments and it outlines their responsibilities to stop the spread of COVID-19. Included in these are regulations that will have a direct effect on the business owner/employer.

First among them is a prohibition on gatherings – meaning no more than 100 persons may be assembled whether this takes place in open air, in a building or at any other premises. If these gatherings will have alcohol/liquor sold for consumption on the premises, this prohibition limits the number of assembled people to less than 50 persons provided there is enough space. “Enough Space” is defined as at least 1-meter square per person.

This regulation affects any premises where people gather, including bars, taverns, shebeens, clubs, restaurants, event venues, etc.

The regulations are strict on the limitations on the sale, dispensing or transportation of alcohol/liquor.

  • All venues/premises that sell alcohol/liquor (bars, taverns, shebeens, clubs, restaurants, event venues) must be closed with immediate effect, or must not accommodate more than 50 people at any time. This is also dependent on whether there is adequate space for each person with respect to hygienic requirements and a limitation to the exposure of the persons to the possible spread of COVID-19.
  • Premises that provide accommodation as well as selling alcohol/liquor must implement measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, ensuring that adequate space is provided and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limiting of exposure to persons with COVID-19 are adhered to.
  • No special or events liquor licenses will be considered during the national state of disaster.
  • All premises selling liquor must adhere to the following, limited, operating schedule:
    • Weekdays and Saturdays: Open from 09:00 and close at 18:00 (and must remain closed between 18:00 until the next morning 09:00)
    • Sundays and Public Holidays: Open from 09:00 and close at 13:00 (and must remain closed from 13:00 until the next morning 09:00)

Schools and partial care facilities have also been closed (including nurseries and creches). This places an extra burden on employee so still report for duty while often being in turmoil of having no one to look after their children during this time. Employers are encouraged to speak to employees and find a mutually beneficial working solution under these extra-ordinary times.

In these difficult times, business will feel the strain and employers will consider all possible avenues to limit damage and not to stop haemorrhaging capital. To this end, we recommend implementing short-time work schedules rather than retrenchments in order to future-proof your business as well as looking after the best interests of the employees that are dependent on them.

All notifications sent to employees regarding operational changes must be legally drafted in order to prevent later claims of unfair labour practice or dismissal. It is very strongly encouraged to engage the services of a labour law expert in this endeavour to prevent CCMA challenges.

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