Covid-19: South Africa to begin easing lockdown restrictions from 1 May – What you need to know

President Cyril Ramaphosa this evening (23 April) addressed the nation on the measures government will continue to implement in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The address follows a meeting of the National Command Council held today and consultations with several stakeholders including leaders of political parties represented in parliament.

During his address, Ramaphosa said that there is clear evidence that the lockdown is working and that it has slowed down the progression of the pandemic in the country. The World Health Organisation commended South Africa for acting swiftly.

He added that while a lockdown is needed to contain the spread of the virus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely. “We have accordingly decided that beyond 30 April, we should begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity. We will implant what we call a risk-adjusted strategy which we take a deliberate and cautious approach to the easing of current lockdown restrictions.

“We have decided on this approach because there is still much that is unknown about the rate and manner of the spread.”

Scientists have advised that an abrupt and uncontrolled lift of restrictions could cause a massive resurgence in infections. “We cannot take action today that we would deeply regret tomorrow. We must avoid a rushed re-opening which could increase the spread and force another hard lockdown.

“We have developed an approach which determines the measures we should have in place based on the direction of the pandemic in the country.”

There will be five coronavirus levels:

  • Level 5: Drastic measures are required to contain spread of virus
  • Level 4: Some activity can be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks
  • Level 3: Easing of some restrictions including on some work and social activities
  • Level 2: Further easing of restrictions but maintenance of physical distancing and restrictions on some leisure and social activities
  • Level 1: Most normal activity can resume with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times

Photo: @PresidencyZA Twitter account

There will be a national level as well as levels for each province and district and metro in the country. “South Africa is currently at Level 5 and the National Coronavirus Command Council will determine the level based on assessment of the infection rate and capacity of the health system to provide care for those who need it.”

Ministers will provide a detailed description of the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level. “We will give all industry bodies an opportunity to consider these details and should they wish to make submissions before new regulations are gazetted, they are free to do so.”

The command council determined that the national level could be lowered to Level 4 with effect from 1 May. Some activity will be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions to limit community transmission and outbreaks.Presidency | South Africa @PresidencyZA · Replying to @PresidencyZA

President #Ramaphosa: This is a crucial moment in our struggle against the coronavirus.

It is a time for caution.

It is a time to act responsibly.

It is a time for patience.

There is no person who doesn’t want to return to work.Presidency | South Africa @PresidencyZA

President #Ramaphosa: There is no company that does not want to re-open.

There is no student who does not want to return to their studies.

Yet, we are all called upon, at some time in our lives, to make great sacrifices for our own future and for the future of others.133Twitter Ads info and privacy66 people are talking about this

Every business will have to adhere to detailed health and safety precautions. Plans will have to be put in place for disease surveillance. All businesses permitted to resume will have to do so in a phased manner. These are as follows:

  • They will have to prepare their workplace for a return to operations
  • Return of workforce in batches of no more than one-third of the workforce
  • In some cases, a sector will not be able to return to full production during Level 4
  • Business will be encouraged to adopt a work-from-home strategy where possible
  • All staff who can work remotely must be allowed to do so.

“As we gradually ease restrictions, it is necessary that many of the measures in place to contain the spread of the virus remain in place.”

When the country moves to Level 4 on 1 May the following will happen:

  • Borders will remain closed to international travel except for the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens
  • No travel will be allowed between provinces except for transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals
  • Public transport will continue to operate with limitations on the number of passengers and stringent hygiene requirements, including that all passengers must wear a face mask
  • The public is encouraged to stay at home, other than for essential personal movement, doing essential work and work in sectors that are under the rolled opening
  • People can exercise under strict public health conditions that will be spelt out.
  • All gatherings apart from funerals and for work will be prohibited
  • Those who are elderly or with underlying conditions must remain at home and take additional precautions to isolate themselves
  • The sale of cigarettes will be permitted
  • Range of goods that may be sold will be incorporated to include certain additional categories, which will be detailed by relevant ministers
  • Several restrictions will remain in place regardless of the level of alert for as long as the risk of transmission is present. Bars and shebeens will remain closed, conference and convention centres and entertainment venue, cinemas, theatres will remain closed. Concerts, sporting events and religious and cultural and social gatherings will not be allowed until it is deemed safe.

Presidency | South Africa @PresidencyZA

Even as we begin to ease some of the lockdown measures, restrictions on large and high-risk gatherings will remain in place to ensure the rate of coronavirus infections does not increase too rapidly. #COVID19 #CoronaVirusSA

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Six municipalities including Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni, Cape Town, Buffalo City, Ethekweni and Mangaung account for 75 per cent of coronavirus cases. “It is therefore essential that we do everything within our means to restrict the movement of people… Ultimately it is our own actions as individuals that will determine how quickly the virus spreads.Presidency | South Africa @PresidencyZA

Because Covid-19 confirmed case numbers & rates of infection differ across the country, alert levels will be determined at the provincial, and in some cases, the district level once the full nationwide lockdown ends. #COVID19 #CoronaVirusSA

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“If we all adhere to instructions and follow pubic health guidelines we will keep the virus under control and we’ll not need to reinstate the most drastic measures.”

By doing a few simple things the spread of the virus can be prevented. These include:

  • Washing hands with soap and water
  • Keeping a distance of at least one metre from another person
  • Try not to touch your mouth, nose and eye
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow when you cough and sneeze
  • Wear a face mask when you leave home.

Ramaphose pays tribute to doctors, nurses, scientists and field workers who are leading the public health response as well as those that are providing essential services. He said that the government is substantially and rapidly increase rapid health response.

Over 70 000 defence force personnel have been deployed to help with various coronavirus efforts. The defence force will continue to assist the police as well as provide assistance in other essential areas such as the provision of water supply, infrastructure maintenance and health services.

“There is no person who does not want to return to work and normal life, there is no company that does not want to reopen its doors for normal economic activity. There is no student who does not want to return to their classrooms or studies.

“We are all called upon at some point in our lives to make great sacrifices for our own future and for the future of others. There are times when we must endure hardship and difficulty so that we can enjoy freedom and prosperity into the future. During the past five weeks, we have demonstrated to the entire nation what we can achieve with courage, determination and solidarity, we must not give up now. I’m asking you to stay strong and focused. I’m asking you to remain united.”