After 750 days, Ramaphosa announces end of National State of Disaster

Image of Ramaphosa

Thabiso Sekhula

South Africa has been in a National State of Disaster for the past 750 days but as of midnight on 4th April, it will officially come to an end.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the changes in a live broadcast. Changes to current Covid-19 laws include:

  • An end to the national state of disaster and lockdown stages.
  • The special R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will remain in place.
  • Masks must still be worn indoors in public spaces. 
  • Both indoor and outdoor venues can take up to 50% of their capacity without any maximum limit, provided that proof of vaccination or a COVID test not older than 72 hours is presented at the entrance to the venue. 
  • Otherwise, no more than 1,000 people are allowed to gather indoors and a maximum of 2,000 people can gather outdoors. 
  • Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.
  • 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.
  • The COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme will stay in place for easy access to compensation for any person who suffers a serious injury because of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • All other restrictions will fall away at midnight, including the criminalisation of not adhering to Covid-19 regulations.

The National Disaster Management Act was passed in March 2020, soon after the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in South Africa.

The act allowed the government to enforce restrictions to slow down the spread of the disease, including the lockdown stages which were imposed according to risk levels.

Ramaphosa highlighted that because of the less severe illness, hospitalisation and deaths experienced by South Africans, the state of disaster was called off.

Of the 108,000 regular hospital beds in the country, only 1,805 are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients and of the 5,600 ICU beds in the country, only 175 are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“Because of these reasons, conditions no longer require that we remain in a National State of Disaster,” Ramaphosa said.

The president highlighted how the end of the disaster period is an important milestone in the fight against Covid-19. It’s a sign of progress but also a reminder of the ones we lost, the ones living with the effects of the disease and those first responders who put their lives at risk daily.