Over two years of government imposed regulatory measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa ended on Monday when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the national state of disaster over with a handful of rules remaining in place.
When the country was in full lockdown – level five – soldiers were out enforcing the regulations alongside their SA Police Service (SAPS) colleagues. Neither the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) nor the police at national, provincial and municipal level merited a mention in Ramaphosa’s televised address to the nation officially ending lockdown.
Ramaphosa said, in part: “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 the response was necessary under the circumstances.
“The declaration of the National State of Disaster on 15 March 2020 empowered government to take measures that prevented many more people becoming severely ill and saved countless lives.
“The measures were effective in slowing down the rate of infection, easing pressure on hospitals and providing the time needed to develop infrastructure, resources and capacity to manage a large number of people who became ill as a result of COVID-19.”
These and other measures, including a R350 distress grant, relief to small business and extending vehicle and driver’s licence validity, were put in place to not only respond to the health hazard posed by COVID-19 but also to limit the cost to society and the economy.
He told South Africans the pandemic was not over adding it will now be managed in terms of the National Health Act with draft regulations already published for public comment and input.
“All regulations and directions in terms of the Disaster Management Act following the declaration of the national state of disaster in response to COVID-19 are repealed with effect from midnight tonight (April 4), with the exception of a few transitional measures,” Ramaphosa said.