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What are my rights during COVID-19 lockdown?

COVID-19 has resulted in an outpouring of information – if we’re not talking or reading about it, we’re waiting in anticipation for President Ramaphosa’s next address, which leaves most of us with many unanswered questions. The COVID-19 virus has created such a new world at such an accelerated pace, that these unanswered questions are expected, because it’s impossible (and likely unhealthy for our mental state) to take in all relevant information.

Our GP/OKCID team have been working 24/7 since lockdown started, which means we’ve been dealing with individual’s questions and concerns head-on since the beginning. We’re here to sift through the mass of information and deal with the most important questions relating to your rights during this lockdown.

  1. What are my rights regarding treatment if I breach lockdown regulations?

Our police commissioner has sent out fresh, detailed guidelines on how South African Police Service (SAPS) and municipal police must conduct themselves. It states that “there can simply be no justification for torture, ever” amongst several other detailed directives. We have made sure our teams are educated on these guidelines, to ensure you’re handled appropriately. You can download the full document stating your rights and our security officer’s responsibilities on our Covid-19 info page.

  1. Can we refuse to be tested for COVID-19 if we’re not showing any symptoms?

As stated by BBP Law Attorneys: “Our law states that no person who is suspected of being infected with the COVID-19 virus and/or who has been in contact with someone who may be a carrier of the COVID-19 virus may simply refuse consent to an enforcement officer for the:

  1. Submission to a medical examination where bodily samples may be drawn from you by a registered doctor or nurse;
  2. Admission to a health establishment, quarantine or isolation site; or
  3. Submission to mandatory treatment.

It is a well-known fact by now that the COVID-19 virus does not cause everyone to develop symptoms, you may however still be a carrier of the virus and therefore you may be reasonably suspected and requested to submit yourself for a medical examination.

Now what is the position if you simply refuse to be tested? In this case, the enforcement officer is authorised to place you in mandatory isolation or quarantine for a period of 48 hours, pending a warrant being issued by a Magistrate authorising the state to conduct mandatory medical examinations on you and if necessary, treatment. You could also be held at a State isolation or quarantine site in order to potentially prevent transmission of the virus.

Furthermore, you will have acted illegally by refusing to submit yourself for the necessary medical examination. You may be criminally prosecuted and if found guilty of the offence, you may be sentenced to jail for a period of not more than 6 months and/or a payment of a fine.”

With every right comes a responsibility. We’re trying our best to educate our team on their conduct, along with abiding by all regulations pertaining to handling staff at work (carrying out daily temperate and attendance records, providing sufficient mask and hand sanitiser supplies, and carrying out hygiene practices). We ask you, in return, to hold yourself equally responsible and remain within the confines of your home, limit your movement to your office and supermarket, and try not to ‘over’ socialise during our ‘level 3’ lockdown regulations.