Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

SA's strict national national lockdown will be partially relaxed from next week Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday evening.

The lockdown was imposed by the government under a state of disaster to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It included stringent measures which severely limited the movement of people and effectively closed the country's borders and  brought SA's economy to a standstill. The relaxation of the lockdown is an attempt to start kick-starting the economy.

By Thursday almost 4,000 people had been infected in SA, while 75 people had died.

Ramaphosa said SA would follow a risk-adjusted approach to the return of economic activity. The need to limit the spread of the coronavirus would be balanced with the need to get people back to work.

He said five different levels would  determine the severity of the lockdown from May 1, with five being a hard lockdown and one being almost completely lifted.

Ramaphosa said the country's lockdown would move to level four on Friday next week.

Cabinet ministers would hold media briefings on Friday to expand on the details.

He said borders will remained closed to international travel, excluding the repatriation of South Africans abroad and foreign nationals. No travel will be allowed between provinces except for special circumstances such as funerals.

Public transport will continue to operate with the limitation on the number of passengers. The passengers will have to wear masks.

He said all gatherings besides for work and funerals would be prohibited. Ramaphosa said the range of goods that would be for sale would be extended. This will include cigarettes, he said.

Ramaphosa said the public was still encouraged to stay at home and only venture out for essential stuff.

He said bars and shebeens will remain closed, as well as conference and convention centres, entertainment venues, cinemas, theatres, and concerts.

He said  concerts, sporting events, and religious, cultural and social gatherings will not be allowed until it was deemed safe for them to continue.

“People can exercise under strict public health conditions,” Ramaphosa said.

“The coronavirus is spread by contact between people. If people do not travel, the virus does not travel,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said as SA eased the lockdown restrictions, the public health response was being “substantially and rapidly” increased.

“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. There is no company that does not want to reopen. There is no student who does not want to return to their studies,” he said.

“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,” Ramaphosa said.