Strict Government COVID-19 regulations have been slightly relaxed to allow bereaved family members to cross provincial boundaries if this is necessary to attend a funeral.

The new regulations, contained in today’s official Government Gazette, are clearly a response to last week’s court decision in which a judge said it was ‘tragic’ not to be able to permit a man, whose grandfather had died in a fire, to travel across provincial borders to attend the funeral and support his family over their time of mourning. In terms of the regulations as they then existed, however, the courts were not empowered to make any exceptions, the judge said at the time.

The latest Gazette includes a provision that, during the current lockdown, all movement between provinces is prohibited except for essential workers going to and from work, for the transportation of certain cargo, for the transportation of a body for burial, and for attending a funeral.

The amendments will allow someone to cross a provincial boundary, or to move between a metropolitan and district area, for a funeral. However, permission must be sought, and it will only be given if the person wanting to go to the funeral is the spouse, partner, child, parent or other close relative of the person who has died. The regulations spell out precisely the relationship that must have existed between the person who has died and the person wanting permission to attend the funeral.

No more than 50 people may attend the funeral or cremation and no night vigil is allowed. Anyone who wants to attend a funeral and who needs to travel between metropolitan and district area, or between provinces, to attend a funeral, will have to get a permit from the nearest police station or magistrate’s office.

To qualify for the permit, a certified death certificate must be produced, or if it is not yet available, then the person who wants the permit to travel must make a sworn affidavit.

If the person wanting to travel to attend such a funeral cannot stay with family or friend, he or she may stay at a local guest house or hotel for 48 hours. This will only be allowed if the manager of the accommodation is shown the travel permit.

  • Only people who had a particular, stipulated, relationship with a deceased person will be given a permit to travel across provincial and metropolitan boundaries to attend a funeral. Here is the list that spells out who will be considered:  “(8)(a) Movement between a metropolitan or district area, or province by a person wishing to attend a funeral shall only be permitted if the person so wishing to attend the funeral is a— (i) spouse or partner of the deceased; (ii) child of the deceased, whether biological, adopted or stepchild; (iii) child-in-law of the deceased; (iv) parent of the deceased whether biological, adopted or stepparent; (v) sibling, whether biological, adopted or stepbrother or sister of the deceased; (vi) grandparent of the deceased; and (vii) person closely affiliated to the deceased. (b) For purposes of this subregulation, closely affiliated means: (i) a person with parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the deceased; or (ii) a person who had developed a significant relationship based on caregiving, psychological or emotional attachment to the deceased.