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Here Are The School Reopening Dates for South Africa

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has published a new directive which outlines the new return dates for South African schools.

The directive, which was gazetted on Tuesday (7 July), further splits the return of pupils with some students now set to return as late at 31 August.

These new dates are detailed in the table below.

The directive also makes provision for provinces which are unable to comply with the new start dates.

In these cases, the DBE said that if a MEC responsible for education in a province must, at least seven days before the date identified for the return of the respective grades, submit a report to the Minister for concurrence or further determination.

The report must include:The reasons for the non-compliance; and
A plan with the proposed dates for the phased return of learners and officials in the respective grades. You can read the full directive by clicking 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.

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Wits University Begins COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

The trial subjects will come from hotspots where the risk of the coronavirus was the highest.

Two thousand South African volunteers are set to be given the Wits and Oxford Universities vaccine for COVID-19 over the next two months. And by the end of the year, scientists will know if it works.

Wits University is expected to launch the clinical trials on Wednesday while 7,000 more people in the UK and 10,000 in the US would also take part in the trial.

Of the 2,000 participants, 1,950 are HIV negative and 50 people are living with HIV and all are between 18 to 65.
Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University Shabir Madhi is leading the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

“We are trying to see whether there is at least 60% protection against COVID-19, it might be higher or lower. If it is lower, our study would not have the power to conclusively say whether the vaccine works or not,” Madhi said.

The trial subjects will come from hotspots where the risk of the coronavirus was the highest.

“As the world rallies to find health solutions, a South African endeavour for the development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is testament to our commitment of supporting healthcare innovation to save lives,” said Professor Glenda Gray.

The study will cost $150 million and is funded by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Bill Gates Foundation.

Watch the announcement of the vaccine trial below.

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.

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Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act In Effect From Today

South African organisations now have one year to comply with the long-awaited Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act (POPIA).

This after the Presidency recently announced the commencement of certain sections of the 2013 data privacy law.

The Act, which gives effect to section 14 of the Constitution, provides that everyone has the right to privacy.

Since 2013, the Act has been put into operation incrementally, with a number of sections of the Act having been implemented in April 2014.

The sections that will commence on 1 July 2020 are:

  • Sections 2-38 dealing with exclusions and the conditions for lawful processing of personal information;
  • Sections 55-109 dealing with the responsibilities of information officers, direct marketing (unsolicited electronic communications), relevant Codes of Conduct and enforcement mechanisms (offences, penalties and administrative fines); and
  • Section 114(1), (2) and (3) which deals with transitional arrangements.

The sections that will commence on 30 June 2021 are:

Sections 110 and 114(4), which deal with the amendment of laws and the transfer of functions from the South African Human Rights Commission to the Information Regulator regarding the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

Responsible conduct

Francis Cronje, an information governance specialist and contributor to the POPI Act, comments: “What all of the above entails is that the Act as a whole will commence on the 1st of July 2020, apart from those sections that have already commenced, and those that will commence on the 30th of June 2021.”

The purpose of the law is to ensure all South African institutions conduct themselves in a responsible manner when collecting, processing, storing and sharing another entity’s personal information by holding them accountable should they abuse or compromise personal information in any way.

Businesses that don’t comply with the POPI Act, regardless of whether it’s intentional or accidental, can face severe penalties.

The Act makes provision for fines of up to R10 million and a jail sentence of up to 10 years, depending on the seriousness of the breach.

Cronje explains that Section 114(1) states that all processing of personal information must within one year after the commencement of this section be made to conform to this Act.

“In essence, from the 1st of July 2020, organisations will have 12 months, or one year, to comply with the conditions for the lawful processing of personal information. No more delays, no more excuses, no more hiding,” he says.

Organisations, public and private, big and small, and anyone processing personal information, will have to align their processing activities to the Act, Cronje notes.

“Whether such processing involves personal information of your employees, prospective employees, part-time workers, contractors, clients, members, consumers, customers or third-parties or anybody else whose personal information you collect, use, share, retain, store, archive, delete or destroy – you, as a processing entity, will have to ensure that you, or anybody that processes personal information on your behalf, complies with the Act.”

Rights of data subjects

Pria Chetty, director at law firm EndCode, points out that up until 22 June 2020, limited sections in the POPI Act were in force.

She notes these were aimed at enabling the Information Regulator to set up operations and for regulations to be issued.

“The announcement from the Presidency confirms that the critical sections of POPIA will now take effect. These are substantive sections that create rights, duties, obligations, procedures and penalties.”

According to Chetty, the rights of data subjects to personal data protection safeguards finally have legal force, bringing South Africa closer to harmonisation with international and continental instruments on privacy and data protection.

“Of further significance, particularly in the context of digital innovation and advances in healthtech and edtech, is the regulation of the processing of special personal information – that will balance the need for access to information with the need to protect sensitive health and children’s information.”

She says organisations will need to address with intent now the provisions regulating the responsibilities of information officers, sectoral Codes of Conduct and provisions regulating direct marketing.

“The regulator will be pleased to see the procedures for dealing with complaints, and other enforcement mechanisms taking effect,” says Chetty.

“Ultimately, it marks the entry of non-negotiable obligations and duties for organisations regarding information privacy practices.”

Chetty believes compliance with the substantive provisions of the POPI Act will be a significant effort for many South African organisations, some of which have been preparing for the law’s enactment for years.

“Taking account of the ways in which digital technologies have altered every element of our work and society at large, embedding information privacy practices at all levels of the organisation is what is needed,” she says.

Strict deadline

Livia Dyer, partner at Bowmans, says the Information Regulator was established to implement and enforce POPIA, and its powers include the ability to levy administrative fines (of up to R10 million).

“POPIA provides for a transitional period of one year,” she notes. “This means that both private businesses and organisations and public bodies that process personal information must, at this stage, ensure they comply with POPIA by 1 July 2021.”

According to Dyer, the transitional period can be extended by a further three years for specific classes of information and certain data controllers (referred to as “responsible parties” in the Act), but there is no guarantee that an extension will be given.

“A year may seem like long time, but business leaders need to initiate the compliance process as soon as possible because, in many cases, compliance will require the implementation of fundamental changes to their organisations,” says Louella Tindale, data protection specialist at Caveat Legal.

Meanwhile, Rohan Isaacs and Tatum Govender from Herbert Smith Freehills SA, say consumers will benefit from POPI’s requirements that their personal information must be protected and that it can only be collected or handled where there is a lawful justification for doing so.

“POPI gives consumers specific rights in respect of organisations handling their personal information and it gives consumers greater control over their personal information. Consumers are informed about what personal information is collected, by who and why so that consumers are able to make informed decisions,” they conclude.

To find out more about the POPI Act, 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].

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.

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Tourism: South Africa Prepares to Welcome the World Again

As South Africa’s government is mulling the reopening of its borders in September, international travelers and travel agents alike have started considering the safety implications of their travels. South Africa’s tourism industry, under the banner of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), has been advocating for the phased reopening and is putting stringent measures in place to lower the risk and ensure the safety of travelers.

The protocols are aligned with guidelines from the World Health Organization as well as South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Disease and Department of Health and have been approved by the South African Department of Tourism. They cover, among other things, the designation of Covid-19 health and safety officers and team leaders; requiring visitors to complete medical and travel declarations compulsory temperature monitoring; and standard physical distancing and capacity controls.

Blacky Komani, TBCSA board chairperson, said the manner in which South Africa’s government has dealt with Covid-19 has been lauded as a world-class approach to dealing with the pandemic. “The protocols have gone through a rigorous process. I’m proud to be part of this country. As South Africa, we are ready to receive tourists and do what we do best, which is take care of them when they arrive.”

Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism, agreed and added that domestic tourism has currently opened for business travel with partial domestic air travel now allowed. He said: “This move is largely thanks to the sector’s proactive initiatives to de-risk itself. In this regard, the sector is taking the necessary steps to embed evidence-based health and safety measures at all touch points in the tourism value chain. This will go a long way in laying a foundation for a stronger and sustainable tourism sector.”

Ntshona said it is imperative that travelers feel safe and secure. “It goes without saying that health and safety will be top of mind whether we are visiting a local park, attending a conference, going on vacation, boarding a flight or staying at a hotel,” he said. “The need for such reassurance underpins the case for sectorwide health and safety protocols and standards in order to boost traveler confidence.”

Numerous South African hotels, lodges and activities have proactively started implementing the safety protocols and have shared what guests can expect from their travel experience.

Airports in South Africa offer a mainly touchless experience where distancing has become the norm and passengers are requested to scan their own boarding passes. Travelers will also be asked to remove any metal and electronic items at security checkpoints and place the items in a designated tray, a procedure that is not normally practiced on flights within the country. This is to minimize the need for physical pat-downs.

The wearing of masks is currently obligatory in South Africa. On arrival at the lodge or hotel, luggage will be sprayed and wiped down. Hand sanitizer will be available to travelers, and social distancing is expected be observed at all times. Travelers will also be requested to fill out a medical form that inquires about any symptoms they may be experiencing.

Extra care will be taken that meals are served in a safe and responsible way, which means that dining will happen a la carte and buffets will be scrapped. Solo travelers will not be permitted to share a table with strangers due to strict social distancing rules.

The number of people on a game drive vehicle will also be kept to a minimum, although travelers from the same group or family will obviously be able to experience game drives together. Game drive vehicles will be thoroughly sanitized after each use.

In case a traveler feels unwell, some lodges have set up dedicated isolation suites where travelers can get tested. If visitors test positive, it is important to note that South Africa boasts the highest standard of health care in Africa, with an extensive network of private doctors, specialists and clinics.

Although lodges have adapted to the new reality of Covid in their operations, the safari experience remains the same or is even better than before, according to industry players.

Robert More, CEO and founder of the More Family Collection, said that although the hospitality group is committed to doing what it can to curb the spread of Covid-19, none of the efforts will compromise the guest experience.

Said More: “Social distancing may well put space between people, but our business is still reliant on human connections and on the ability to create life-enriching experiences for our visitors. We realize that people will be seeking wide-open spaces, fresh air, beautiful environments and intuitive, warm human service — this is what we intend to deliver. Thankfully, ours is a product where distancing need not be negative: less people on a safari vehicle, for example, can only enhance the experience.”

Marcelo Novais, general manager of Ker & Downey Africa DMC and Grand Africa Safaris, said that even prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, a high level of safety was observed. He said: “For example, our vehicles are new, and our drivers maintain an impeccable level of hygiene during and after each client’s trip. This includes regular cleaning between and even during tours as well as drivers donning gloves. Going forward, our services will continue these high standards of hygiene protocols as well as implement the new regulations, such as wearing masks and implementing social distancing.”

Social distancing is not difficult in Africa, according to the TBCSA’s Komani. “We are not a mass tourism destination. South Africa is known for its space. You can drive for hours without seeing a single soul. We are geared for it,” he said.

Novais agreed, pointing out that Africa’s sought-after wilderness destinations are not densely populated and therefore the virus has had a low impact.

According to Novais, we can expect an influx of luxury and family travelers seeking out safari destinations in 2021. He said that according to a recent survey conducted by Ker & Downey, 63% of clients want to visit Southern Africa going forward.

Said Novais: “We predict that family travel will be highly sought-after once the global travel bans are lifted, as families will be looking to spend quality time together after being cooped up indoors and potentially missing their 2020 family holiday. The combination of travelers seeking exclusive holidays in remote destinations and the postponed bookings from 2020 will pose a challenge for availability in 2021.”

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], [3], [4].