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South Africa Moving to Level 1 Lock-down: What Are the Changes?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that a number of South Africa’s lockdown regulations will be relaxed as the country moves to a level 1 lockdown from midnight on Sunday (20 September).

In a national address on Wednesday evening (16 September), the president said that the country has ‘withstood the storm’ in its fight against the coronavirus and that the data shows a clear downward trend in the country.

However, he cautioned that ‘by any measure we are still in the midst of a deadly epidemic’ and said that the most important task is ensuring that the country is not hit by a second wave of infections as is being seen internationally.

To help prevent a possible second wave, Ramaphosa said that the government will expand its testing to include more categories of people. He said that the government also plans to step up its contact tracing capabilities.

Ramaphosa said that South Africa is also participating in a World Health Organisation initiative to ensure access and distribution to a successful coronavirus vaccine at a lower cost. Local experts are also working on a vaccine.

The South African government has consistently reminded citizens to practice strict hygiene habits, and follow safety guidelines, which include wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands, maintaining a social distance of at least 2 metres, and working from home whenever possible.

Eased restrictions

As Covid-19 cases decrease, the president said that the country will move to lockdown level 1 from midnight on Sunday (taking effect at midnight, or 00h01 on Monday), with restrictions eased in the following areas:

Gatherings

  • Gatherings will be allowed as long as the number of people do not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue –  up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings;
  • Maximum capacity at funerals has been increased to 100 people;
  • Night vigils are still prohibited;
  • Venues such as gyms and recreational facilities have had limits increased to 50% of total capacity;
  • Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.

 

Travel

  • The government will gradually ease restrictions on international travel for business and leisure from 1 October – subject to containment measures. A list of permitted countries will be published and based on the latest scientific data;
  • International travel will only be allowed through the main border ports or through OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, or King Shaka International;
  • Travellers will need to provide a negative coronavirus certificate or will be put into quarantine at their own cost;
  • All travellers will be required to install the Coivd-19 alert level app.

 

Other changes

  • The evening curfew will apply between 00h00 and 04h00;
  • Alcohol for home consumption can be sold between 09h00 – 17h00 from Monday to Friday;
  • On-site consumption will be allowed subject to adherence to the curfew;
  • More government facilities will return.

Ramaphosa said that this will be the ‘new normal’ and that updated restrictions will be gazetted over the next few days, providing more clarity.

New economic recovery plan 

The move to level 1 comes after the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) has agreed to an action plan for South Africa’s economic recovery.

The plan is directed towards building confidence and placing South Africa on a path of investment and growth.

“Social partners have identified priority areas for rebuilding the economy as well as structural reforms and other programmes which will enable sustainable and inclusive growth with an intensive focus on job creation,” the presidency said.

While the final details of the plan will only be announced once it is finalised by cabinet, the presidency said that a core focus will be on addressing Eskom’s structural and funding problems.

“Social partners have also agreed on a social compact which commits government, business, labour and community to mobilising funding to address Eskom’s financial crisis in a sustainable manner – in return for an efficient, productive and fit-for-purpose Eskom that generates electricity at affordable prices for communities and industries,” it said.

Another key pillar of the plan will be infrastructure, with a massive development drive seen as key to driving recovery post-lockdown and creating jobs.

This comes after the presidency published a list of ‘priority infrastructure projects’, which is expected to pave the way for the beginning of private investment in a R2.3 trillion programme over the next decade.

To watch the President’s speech, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Nigerian Government Shifts Resumption of International Flights to September 5

The Federal Government of Nigeria recently announced a shift in the resumption of international flights to September 5.

According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the federal government postponed the resumption date, earlier fixed for Saturday, because of its inability to put in place non-aviation logistics for flights resumption.

The government has also said it has deployed a Gene Expert machine at the National Hospital Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada (UATH) to reduce the turnaround time for COVID-19 diagnosis to one hour.

It has also unveiled two transparency dashboards to enhance accountability in national COVID-19 response.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had said international airports in the country would reopen effective August 29 to resume international flight operations.

But at a press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 yesterday in Abuja, NCAA Director General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said there were non-aeronautical logistics that needed to be put in place before the country’s airspace could be reopened to international flights.

He said: “Since the announcement by the honourable minister of aviation a few weeks ago that international flights will resume anytime from 29th of August, the aviation sector has worked assiduously to be ready for this date.

“The aviation sector, including the airports, is ready to resume on the 29th. However, we have other non-aviation logistics we are still working on mostly to do with the COVID-19 protocols, tests and online platforms. We need to get this in place so that we will have a smooth and efficient resumption of international flights without difficulties for all the passengers.

“So, for this reason, unfortunately, I have to let you know that the resumption date has been shifted by one week to the 5th of September, which is now a sacrosanct date. “The initial announcement was anytime from August 29. Now we have fixed a date – 5th of September- ensure that resumption of international flights.

“In due course, once these logistics are done, we will be announcing the protocols for the resumption and also we will be giving further details on the principle of reciprocity we have mentioned. So, hopefully, early next week, we will release this.”

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, also said the federal government had deployed a Gene Expert machine in the National Hospital Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, to shorten the turnaround time for COVID-19 diagnosis.

He said with the new development, cases of suspected COVID-19 emergencies could now be diagnosed on-site, thereby “reducing the turnaround and waiting time to one hour.”

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Nigeria to Reopen Airports for International Flights From 29 August

Nigeria will reopen its airports for international flights from Aug. 29, its aviation minister said on Monday.

The airports have been closed since March 23 to all but essential international flights as part of the country’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said four flights would begin landing daily in Lagos, and four in Abuja, with strict protocols. He did not say where they would be coming from.

“It is safe to fly, if we observe all those protocols in place,” Sirika said at a briefing in Abuja.

Africa’s most populous nation, which recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case in late February, now has 49,068 confirmed cases and 975 deaths.

It resumed domestic flights on July 8 and Sirika said there had been no confirmed virus transmissions on flights.

Passengers on international flights will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test in order to board and pay for another test after they arrive in Nigeria, Sirika said. They will also be required to fill in an online health questionnaire and present it to authorities when they land.

Those currently returning to Nigeria aboard repatriation flights are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, and authorities retain passports for that period. Sirika said on Monday they could “gradually” stop keeping passengers’ passports.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Department of Tourism: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for When South Africa Will Reopen for Tourists

The Department of Tourism has published a new draft recovery plan, outlining the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and how the tourism industry is likely to be impacted over the coming year.

The document is a detailed breakdown of international and local projections for when tourism will likely open up, using modelling that takes into account various infection patterns and recovery scenarios.

South Africa’s projections are predicated on international trends, which modelling shows is likely to open up for travel in a wide window of between August 2020 and May 2021.

Depending on the local spread of Covid-19 and recovery scenarios, South Africa’s tourism could start opening up as early as August 2020 in the best-case scenario, the department said – but in the worst-case, the industry could remain shut until well into 2021.


International travel

The policy document notes that the reopening of international tourism and the country borders will not only be dependent on South Africa’s coronavirus response, but also 44 primary source markets which drive international tourism to the country.

To help model when these countries are likely to reopen, pandemic data for individual countries was sourced and manipulated to obtain the pandemic duration, maximum number of deaths per day, date of peak daily mortality and days since peak daily mortality.

Date of peak daily mortality and peak value had to be determined for each country, and if a country had not yet reached its peak, these were estimated either by extrapolation or by setting a peak number and peak factor.

A linear recovery equation was found for three benchmark countries: South Korea (plateau), China (steep) and the United States (very steep). Gradients and limitations were adjusted to apply more optimistic or pessimistic assumptions and develop alternative scenarios.

Lastly, using China as a benchmark, where it took 60 days to open partially and a further 30 days for full domestic opening, the Oxford Lockdown Stringency Index (LSI) was used to approximate the number of days it would take from the point of recording zero daily deaths to full opening per source country.

Using this data, the department forecasts a global tourism re-opening between August 2020 and early 2021.

“This scenario assumes that the general observed recovery trajectory persists and that progress towards enhanced treatments for Covid-19 by the end of 2020 continue, with an accessible vaccine coming to market by the end of 2021,” the department said.

“Since indications of international border re-openings remain speculative at the time of writing, these dates represent the earliest likely date at which international travel will resume.”

The below model shows the estimated travel periods for South Africa’s primary ‘source countries’  for tourism.

  • The model is set between August 2020 and May 2021;
  • For domestic travel (travel within the respective country), the opening window is set between August 2020 and mid-February 2021;
  • For international travel (to and from the respective country), the opening window is set between November 2020 and May 2021.

Localised and global reinfection 

While the above model provides a positive picture globally, the risk of localised or global reinfection waves continue to threaten the global economic recovery and the strength and consistency of projected recoveries therefore come with low levels of certainty.

“As countries begin the process of re-opening, there remains a strong likelihood that trajectories out of lockdown conditions will prove far more fragile than hoped and that contagion risk in neighbouring countries or regions will force many nations to remain closed off from the world well into 2021,” the department said.

For this reason, the department provided two further global scenarios:

  • A more fragile recovery that contains isolated setbacks and takes longer, but still reflects an extension of the current global trajectory;
  • prolonged pandemic where the search for a vaccine proves elusive, herd immunity does not successfully contain transmission and multiple re-infection waves result.

Under the first of these scenarios, the timeframe for early Asian/Australasian re-opening moves from July/August 2020 to November 2020, while core markets (the UK, Germany and the US) can only be expected to return after April 2021.

The second scenario paints an even bleaker picture, with international outbound travel from Asia picking up between May and July 2021 and travel from core markets only returning from November 2021.

“In both of the more pessimistic scenarios, the 2020/21 summer season will be seriously affected, with even the following year’s peak months being under threat.

“This will have grave implications for supply-side survival. Given the modelling outputs and qualitative data emerging from the market, however, the stronger international recovery scenario remains the core outlook,” the department said.

It added that containment of the virus ultimately requires effective treatment and vaccine lead times will be a key indicator of the duration of the stabilisation phase.

This will inform visa policies and port of entry protocols as countries without sufficient herd immunity or access to treatment will seek to limit viral vectors, it said.

“In the interim, temporary and semi-permanent restrictions on traveller mobility are inevitable and unlikely to be standardised across markets.

“Measures such as immunity certification, pre- and post-travel quarantine and mandatory visitor tracking will reassure travellers but also impede the visitor experience”


South Africa

The document notes that South Africa’s pandemic curve thus far resembles the ‘plateau’ shape of countries such as South Korea, Australia and Singapore more than it does the ‘exponential growth’ experience of China, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The implication is therefore that, having successfully ‘flattened the curve’ to prevent health services from being overwhelmed, the country now faces a more prolonged, but less acute battle against the pandemic, the department said.

Using the above model it used for foreign countries, it produced the three following scenarios for South Africa:

  • strong recovery scenario where South Africa is able to contemplate re-opening in August;
  • A fragile recovery scenario, where the horizon shifts out to November 2020;
  • low-road, prolonged crisis scenario where the pandemic rages well into 2021.

Citing data from the South African Covid-19 modelling consortium, the department said that the country is on track for a ‘middle-road recovery’.

Under this outlook, South Africa recovers slower than many other parts of the world but does not lag far behind key source markets in Europe and North America.

“It is therefore likely that tourism recovery will experience a number of phases, from hyper-local community attractions, through broader domestic tourism, followed potentially by regional land and air markets, and then the resumption of world-wide international travel,” the department said.

“The implementation of the government’s risk-adjusted strategy is based on sector-level risk assessments that consider transmission risk across a number of dimensions, including; age of workforce, remote working potential, ability to enforce health and safety regulations and travel considerations of employees.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

New Lock-down Changes and Airports Open in South Africa

Lock-down amendments

Government has made a number of changes to South Africa’s level 3 lockdown regulations, with more likely on the way.

On Friday (26 June), the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma published a new directive outlining the country’s ‘advanced’ level 3 lockdown regulations.

A number of ministers have subsequently announced changes to their various sectors, including the reopening of a number of business sectors.

These changes are outlined in more detail below.


Sit-down restaurants

Tourism minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has outlined the following rules that restaurants will need to follow when they reopen on Monday (29 June):

  • Restaurants are required to conduct a screening questionnaire on guests. Restaurants may refuse admission if they deem a guest is a safety risk;
  • No person may enter the premises without a cloth mask or any homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Masks must be worn at all times except where eating and drinking;
  • All guests must sanitise before entering the premises;
  • There must be a distance of at least 1.5 metres between the customer and the point-of-sale serving counter. The same distance will also apply to queuing customers and between queues at different till points;
  • Customers should also be seated 1.5 metres apart;
  • Restaurants should consider a reservation system where possible to manage demand and ensure capacity limits;
  • No self-service buffets are allowed;
  • Menus must be replaced with non-touch options or sanitised after each use;
  • Tables must be sanitised before and after each guest;
  • Where possible and while taking orders, waiting staff should stand at least a metre from the table.

Casinos

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced that casinos can also reopen, subject to the following rules:

  • The number of persons entering a casino shall not be more than 50% based on the available floor space of the gambling floor;
  • Casinos shall ensure compliance with the requirement relating to physical distancing, which is at least 1.5 metres;
  • Casinos are required to keep a daily record of the full details of all employees, delivery agents and customers;
  • Casinos are required to conduct a screening questionnaire for every guest. After screening, where necessary, they may isolate a person in a facility designated for isolation within their premises;
  • No person shall be allowed into premises if that person is not wearing a cloth mask or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Guests must wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking;
  • Frequently sanitise guests during their stay in the premises or provide guests with sanitisers for frequent use;
  • Maintain at least a distance of one and a half meters between open machines;
  • Sanitise all machine and other surfaces touched after every use, or provide guests with sanitisers to sanitise the surface that they will occupy and touch.

Conference and meetings

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said that conference and meeting venus can reopen, subject to the following rules:

  • The number of persons entering a conference and meeting venue shall not be more than 50 people;
  • Conference and meetings shall ensure compliance with the requirement relating to physical distancing, which is at least one and a half meters;
  • These venues must keep a daily record of the full details of all employees, delivery agents and attendees;
  • Conduct a screening questionnaire for every delegate in the format of the form issues with published guidelines;
  • Set up screening stations before or after entrances, at the front of queues to facilitate the screening of delegates at each and every entry;
  • After screening, where necessary, isolate a person in a facility within their premises designated for isolation;
  • No person shall be allowed onto a premises, if that person is not wearing a cloth mask or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Delegates must wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking;
  • Sanitise delegates before entering into the premises;
  • Frequently sanitise guests during their stay in the premises or provide guests with sanitisers for frequent use;
  • Only individual water and individual mints condiments will be provided. The use of containers or bowls is prohibited;
  • Sanitise microphone and podium after use by every person;
  • Designate a seat for each delegate and not allow a delegate to change the seat.

Resumption of sports 

Further to the announcement of the approval for the resumption of football activities last week, minister of sport, arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, announced the resumption of training and matches for the following sport bodies:

  • Cricket SA;
  • South African Anglers and Casting Confederation;
  • SA Gymnastics Federation;
  • Tennis SA;
  • SA National Climbing Federation;
  • Canoeing SA;
  • Swimming SA.

Tracking and tracing

As part of her directive on Friday, Dlamini-Zuma introduced a number of changes to government’s coronavirus tracking and tracing capabilities. These include:

  • The use of ‘geospatial hotspot mapping’ for tracking and tracing purposes;
  • The Department of Health can develop and implement electronic systems or applications to be used on mobile devices or computers in order to collect, on a voluntary basis, information from members of the public for inclusion in the Covid-19 database;
  • To obtain the necessary consent from the user of the mobile device or computer, the terms and conditions of the electronic system or application must explain and request the user’s express consent on a number of issues, including which information will be collected and how it will be stored.

Exercise and continued restrictions

Dlamini-Zuma also clarified the issue of exercising in groups in her directive.

The rules have been updated to allow for exercise between the hours of 06h00 to 18h00, provided that the exercise is not done in organised groups of more than four people, and adheres to health protocols and social distancing measures.

The directive also indicates that the following restrictions will remain in place:

  • Gyms and fitness centres remain closed;
  • Sports grounds and fields and swimming pools remain closed, except for training of professional athletes and non -contact sports matches as referred to in regulation and contact sports for training only;
  • Fêtes and bazaars remain closed;
  • Night clubs remain closed;
  • Accommodation establishments not formally accredited and licensed, such as private homes for paid leisure accommodation (ie, Airbnb) remain closed;
  • Conference facilities remain closed, except for business use;
  • Any on-consumption premises, including bars, taverns, shebeens and similar establishments remain closed;
  • Beaches and public parks remain closed.

New airports open

While more local airports will be allowed to operate for domestic flights from 1 July, all international passenger flights are prohibited except those flights authorised by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, and only for repatriation of South African citizens and medical evacuation.

Mbalula made this and other announcements related to the aviation industry during a virtual meeting on Monday.

Some regulations on domestic flights were eased, however, with certain conditions.

Mbalula said in addition to the original four airports that are currently operating, the following domestic airports will reopen from 1 July: Bram Fischer International Airport; Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport; Pietermaritzburg Airport; Port Elizabeth International Airport; Richards Bay Airport; Skukuza Airport; and Upington International Airport.

“It has been three weeks since the OR Tambo, King Shaka, Cape Town and Lanseria International airports have been opened for domestic passenger travel.

“Following the announcement of phase 1 domestic operations, the airports and airlines submitted their Standard Operating Procedures to the South African Civil Aviation Authority [SACAA] for approval and this was followed by compliance inspections conducted by the Regulator to all four airports. My team and I visited OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria for a readiness walk-about and we were satisfied that the airports were ready for operation,” the minister said.

In addition to passenger flights, all aerial work to conduct the following will be permitted from 1 July: Agricultural spraying, seeding and dusting; cloud spraying, seeding and dusting; culling; construction; aerial harvesting; aerial patrol, observation and survey; aerial advertisement, including banner towing and other towing of objects; search and rescue; parachuting; aerial recording by photographic or electronic means; fire spotting, control and fighting; and spraying, seeding or dusting other than for agricultural purposes and clouds.  

Mbalula said general aviation is permitted for the following purposes: Approved regional repositioning flights for all South African and foreign registered aircraft into and from South Africa for return after maintenance and repair, to perform maintenance and repair or to continue with contractual work within South Africa or foreign countries within the region; exchanging of crew members operating in foreign countries as and when required; and transporting of aviation technicians, mechanics and engineers internationally for essential support and assistance to aircraft.

Proficiency flights will be allowed, provided that the flight is authorised by the SACAA and remains within the general flying area, airfield or airport boundaries.

Recreational aviation is also permitted for proficiency flights, provided that the flight is authorised by the SACAA and remains within the general flying area, airfield or airport boundaries.  

“All these measures are in line with the gradual reopening of our economy, as we enter a new normal and journey together, towards a healthier, safer and more prosperous South Africa,” Mbalula said. 

“As more airports are opened, this will naturally increase the number of passengers at airports and therefore measures have been put in place to ensure that passengers are prepared for their experience at the airports to avoid congestion mainly at security checkpoints.  While this works perfectly at the airports currently, it will need to be managed properly as we open for more activity.

“Sanitisers are classified as dangerous goods and the SACAA has made provision for the carrying of such in limited quantities as a safety measure and in compliance with existing regulations.”

Mbalula said for the efficient facilitation of passengers at airports, the operators have urged the flying community to arrive at least two hours early to allow for sufficient time to process passengers at the airports while adhering to the screening requirements as per the Department of Health regulations.

“The SACAA has also reviewed its earlier decision of ‘no catering’ on board an aircraft by permitting airlines to provide pre-packed meals that must be placed in front of the seat for each passenger before the passenger boards the aircraft. This will allow for minimised movement during flight.”

Internationally, the airline industry is anticipating $550 billion in losses by the end of the year. Locally, it is not much better off, with South African airlines set to lose some R55 billion in revenue and over 250 000 jobs are on the line.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].