Tuesday, April 05, 2022

The National State of Disaster has been lifted

After 750 days, the National State of Disaster has been lifted. It was initially meant only for 21 days.

Addressing the nation on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the introduction of the state of disaster and the various lockdown restrictions were necessary to manage the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

(Words in Bold are said by President Cyril Ramaphosa)

The declaration of a state of disaster was a response to a global health crisis that posed a grave threat to the lives and the well-being of our people.

There is no doubt that such a response was necessary under these circumstances.

The declaration of the National State of Disaster on 15 March 2020 empowered government to take the measures that prevented many more people from becoming severely ill and saved countless lives.

These measures were effective in slowing down the rate of infection, easing pressure on our hospitals, and providing the time we needed to develop the infrastructure, resources and capacity to manage a large number of people who became ill as a result of COVID-19.

Ramaphosa announced that whilst the NSOD has been lifted, some regulations would remain in place for 30 days to allow the government to transition to the Health Act.

Firstly, we will still be required to wear a face mask in an indoor public space. This is necessary to prevent transmission in high-risk places, especially while many people remain unvaccinated.

A mask is not required when outdoors.

Secondly, the existing restrictions on gatherings will continue as a transitional measure.

This means that both indoor and outdoor venues can take up to 50 percent of their capacity without any maximum limit, provided that proof of vaccination or a COVID test not older than 72 hours is required for entrance to the venue.

Where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a COVID test, then the current upper limit of 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors will remain.

Thirdly, the existing provisions with respect to international travel remain in place.

This means that travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.

If a traveller does not submit a vaccine certificate or proof of a negative COVID-19 test, they will be required to do an antigen test on arrival.

If they test positive for COVID-19, they will need to isolate for 10 days.

Fourthly, the directions that provide for the payment of the special R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will remain in place.

This will enable the Department of Social Development to finalise the regulations that will allow the payment of the grant to continue.

Fifthly, directions that provide for the extension of the validity of a learner’s licence, driving licence card, licence disc, professional driving permit and registration of a motor vehicle will remain in place.

But what about the other restrictions?

All other disaster regulations will fall away (at midnight tonight.)

These include regulations on isolation of persons, on schools and access to old age homes, on public transport, on initiation practices, on cargo transportation, and on criminalisation of non-adherence to these rules.

The end of the National State of Disaster also means that the Coronavirus Alert Levels will no longer apply.

The few transitional measures that remain are limited in scope, and allow almost all social and economic activity to resume as normal.

They are essential to reduce the risk of a further COVID-19 wave and further disaster.

 They also ensure that people can continue to receive their special R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant and that there is no interruption regarding drivers’ licences.

As I have explained, these are transitional measures which will lapse after 30 days.

This will allow the management of the pandemic to be dealt with, as appropriate, by the Health Regulations or other provisions.

The President announced that the COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme will remain in place.

The scheme, which is administered by the Health Department, was brought into force in April last year to provide quick and easy access to compensation to any person who suffers a serious injury because of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Health, will continue after the National State of Disaster ends.

The Scheme will only be terminated once it has achieved its purpose.

Ramaphosa says the end of the National State of Disaster is an important milestone in South Africa’s fight against the pandemic.

It is a sign of the progress we have made together and a reminder of what our nation has endured.

It is a moment to remember those who have lost their lives and the many people who are still struggling with the effects of the disease.

It is also a time to pay tribute to the health care workers, police, soldiers, volunteers and other frontline workers for their dedication and service during the worst times of the pandemic.

The end of the National State of Disaster is a firm statement of our determination to live our lives and rebuild our country even as this virus remains in our midst.

It should give all of us the confidence to return to the lives we led before the pandemic, with a few simple adjustments to protect those around us.

It should provide our businesses with certainty that they can operate and invest without the prospect of further restrictions.

Importantly, by ending the National State of Disaster we are each taking more individual responsibility for protecting our health and the health of others.

Ramaphosa encouraged citizens to get Vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccination is our best defence against COVID-19.

 Vaccination is also the best weapon we have to reduce the chances of future waves of infection that overwhelm our health facilities – and that may require that we once more declare a state of disaster.

The president believes that the lifting of the remaining regulations will get the country back on track, including economic recovery. 

Although the pandemic is not over, and although we continue to remain cautious, we can be confident that we are in a better position now than we have been at any other time over the last 750 days.

We are hopeful that the worst is behind us, and we are confident that there are only better days ahead.

Now is the time to grow our economy and create jobs. Now is the time to get our country back on track.

Now is the time to heal, to recover and to rebuild.

Let’s get reaction to this now, and all political parties welcomed the announcement of the lifting of the NSOD:

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) hopes that South Africa will be able to return to a semblance of, what it describes as, ‘normal’ life, in the near future.

 The Good party said that South Africa, like the rest of the world, had navigated an unprecedented public health crisis.

The EFF has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to start work on building a new economy now that the national state of disaster has come to an end.

Furthermore, the Democratic Alliance who has been vocal about lifting the national state of disaster, says they welcome the announcement by president Cyril Ramaphosa, but says they are unhappy about regulations to the Health Act. DA leader. John Steenhuisen says he has written an open letter to the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, calling on him to retract these amendments.

Steenhuisen believes that the Act is, what he says, a transparent and opportunistic attempt to extend the State of Disaster.

Freedom Front plus shared the same sentiments as the DA

 

PICTURE: President Cyril Ramaphosa (@PresidencyZA)

For Bush Radio News, I am Mitchum George

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