A Return To Economic Activity
On Sunday, 24 May 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation to elaborate on government’s risk-adjusted strategy for economic activity and preventative measures against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In his address, the president thanked South Africans for their patience and diligence in abiding with lockdown measures, as well as the tireless health care and essential workers who have sacrificed so much to keep the country safe.
Ramaphosa then announced that as of Monday, 01 June 2020, the entire country will enter level 3 lockdown. He admitted that this will most likely cause a surge in infection rates, as most manufacturing sectors and various business sectors will be allowed to return to work. However, he explained that numerous field hospitals are being built to accommodate the spike in infections and that public transport will remain under strict regulations to help protect those returning to work.
In April, the national coronavirus command council implemented the five lockdown levels to ease the country back into economic activity. Each level permits a certain amount of economic activity, movement and trade, depending on a variety of factors, including the relevant health system’s capacity to treat new patients. As we move into level 3 lockdown, you may be asking what this means for a return to normal life? Here’s a breakdown of what you can and cannot do in terms of retail, movement and social gatherings under level 3 lockdown:
Under level 3 lockdown, life is expected to return to some semblance of normality as we will be allowed to exercise at all hours of the day and the stringent curfew will be lifted. Nevertheless, public gatherings of all kinds, group exercises and in-house restaurant dining will remain prohibited. In addition, some of the country’s coronavirus ‘hotspots’ may be returned to levels 4 or 5 should infection rates spike out of control.
In his address, President Ramaphosa also announced that alcohol will be sold in level 3 lockdown, under strict regulations and only on certain days of the week for limited hours. Alcohol will not be sold at restaurants, taverns or bars however, and will only be allowed for home consumption. Much to the dismay of smokers, tobacco products will not be permitted for sale due to the health risk associated with smoking. All other forms of retail will be allowed under strict health and safety regulations, including e-commerce trading winter clothing, books and IT equipment.
President Ramaphosa addressed many of the fears and anxieties concerning the return to schooling as well. He announced that as of 01 June 2020, schools would be phased open, with grade 7 and 12 learners going back to school first. Institutions of higher learning will be implementing online learning systems and phased-in contact learning on campus from the start of June.
Under level 3 lockdown, restrictions on transportation and movement will be loosened somewhat, allowing for:
- Bus services, taxi services, e-hailing and private motor vehicles may operate at all times of the day, with limitations on vehicle capacity and stringent hygiene requirements.
- No inter-provincial movement of people, except for transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances (e.g. funerals).
- Limited domestic air travel, with a restriction on the number of flights per day and authorisation based on the reason for travel.
The president reiterated in his address that those who can work from home should do so. He similarly emphasised the need for people over the age of 60 who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and cancer to remain at home. He furthermore impressed that it is important that we do not undo the good work done in hard lockdown by visiting friends and family now. Continuing to wear cloth face masks in public, frequently washing our hands and avoiding contact-based greetings will also remain essential to curbing the spread of COVID-19, he explained.
Levels 2 & 1
President Ramaphosa discussed the further loosening of lockdown restrictions in areas of low infection rates, announcing that these areas may move to levels 2 or 1 in due course. These levels of lockdown will be implemented providing there is moderate spread of the virus and high readiness by the health care system. It allows for these sectors to return to full capacity:
- All other retail
- All other manufacturing
- Mining (all mines at 100%
- All government services
- Installation, repairs and maintenance
- Domestic work and cleaning services
- Informal waste-pickers
Furthermore, domestic air travel will be restored, as well as car rental services. Movement between provinces will be allowed at level 1 and 2 restrictions. Level 1 allows for all sectors to return to full capacity. Similarly, all modes of transportation will be permitted to operate, providing that they do so under strict hygiene conditions. Inter-provincial movement will be allowed, however there will be restrictions on international travel.
For More Information
Visit www.gov.za for the latest news and updates on the Government’s response to the coronavirus. You can also follow them on social media for more information:
To watch President Ramaphosa’s full address to the nation, click here.
Stay safe and keep well!