The civil rights organisation AfriForum welcomes regulations that have just been published in the Government Gazette. These regulations stipulate that people returning to South Africa from abroad may self-isolate for a fixed period. This means that AfriForum’s struggle of four months against compulsory quarantine in state facilities has finally borne fruit.
According to Sue-Ann de Wet, AfriForum’s Manager of Diaspora Liaison, the new regulations allow for people to self-isolate once they return to the country. Permission to self-isolate is subject to very strict regulations, including that people who wish to do so, have to apply to the Director-General of Health for the necessary consent at least 72 hours before the commencement of their journey. Applications have to include proof of suitable premises for self-isolation, contact details during the isolation period and the person’s itinerary for the preceding 30 days.
De Wet emphasised that repatriates have to take note that consent for self-isolation is not guaranteed and that the conditions for self-isolation as set out in the regulations apply. “Permission is still subject to the discretion of the officials concerned. If consent for self-isolation is refused, the person will have to remain in a state facility at the state’s expense.”
According to De Wet, people who are currently in quarantine in state facilities, or will start their return journey to South Africa in less than 72 hours, have to be patient while the regulations and the process of the release of people currently in quarantine are communicated to all the facilities.
“The facilities and individuals’ experience of compulsory quarantine have been very diverse. In some cases facilities did not meet the requirements at all, while in some cases personal circumstances made it difficult for people to be confined in an unfamiliar environment for many days. AfriForum therefore welcomes the department’s adjustment of the regulations. We are all the more pleased that we opposed the quarantine measure in court,” De Wet adds.
“The new regulations are a victory for the rights of repatriated South Africans, but also leave them with the obligation to act responsibly. AfriForum calls on everyone to adhere strictly to all requirements in order to ensure that no-one’s safety will be jeopardised due to the fact that people can now self-isolate.”