The State of National Disaster, declared two years ago in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been extended by a month.
The department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs said on Tuesday that the State of National Disaster — which had been set to expire on Tuesday — had been extended until 15 April this year.
The decision to extend the State of National Disaster by a month is understood to have been a result of the failure of the cabinet to agree on measures to manage Covid-19 infections without the use of the disaster regulations, which limit movements and regulate the capacity of public and private events.
The decision was made after a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) set up to coordinate the government’s Covid-19 response and an earlier sitting of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, which is understood to have recommended that the disaster regulations be lifted.
The extension comes despite continuing calls by business and opposition parties that the disaster regulations — introduced in March 2020 to try to combat the spread of Covid-19 — and indications by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Joe Phaahla, that the government was planning to lift the State of National Disaster.
The decision was announced in the Government Gazette on Tuesday by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who said in the proclamation that the extension was carried out “to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangement undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster”.
Phaahla is understood to have presented new regulations to replace the State of National Disaster regulations to the NCCC and cabinet, but that further refinements were required before they could be ratified.