WATCH | President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation
President expected to announce relaxed restrictions
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President Cyril Ramaphosa was on Wednesday evening expected to announce whether the government will would relax national lockdown regulations to level 3 - which would see the opening of the economy as more industries would be allowed to operate.
The president has been under pressure to open the economy as some businesses have had to close, leading to job losses.
The presidency announced that the address would take place on Wednesday evening at 8.30pm and would be about “South Africa’s ongoing measures to manage the spread of the coronavirus through the implementation of a risk-adjusted strategy".
“The president’s address follows a number of meetings of cabinet and the national coronavirus command council.”
Ramaphosa chaired a sitting of the national command council on Covid-19, the co-ordinating structure of the cabinet tasked with managing the Covid-19 crisis, which heard an update from health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
The minister’s report back to the structure is likely to be the determining factor on whether Ramaphosa announces the move to level 3.
When Ramaphosa first announced the risk- adjusted system on April 23, during his latest address to the nation, he said that the government would have the liberty of moving back and forth between levels depending on the health-care system's ability to manage infections.
It has been 13 days since the country moved to level 4, which has seen strict restrictions remain in place, with the exception of limited economic activity to bring some life back into the ailing economy. All indications, however, are that this has not been enough.
The president has also faced a series of legal challenges over the ban on the sale of tobacco products and even the legitimacy of the national command council and its decision-making powers.
Even from within his own cabinet, Ramaphosa has seen some division, with finance minister Tito Mboweni publicly announcing his opposition to the ongoing ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products because of the effect the ban has had on tax revenue.