David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

It is not possible to move the cities and districts in Gauteng to different levels of lockdown at the same time, as the province is highly integrated, says premier David Makhura.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Makhura said the next two weeks in Gauteng were crucial. He said the quickest way to reach a lower level of restriction was if all sectors complied with  protective measures such as social distancing and good hygiene.

“In Gauteng you can’t have level 3 in Ekurhuleni and level 1 in Johannesburg and level 2 in Tshwane. We are an integrated city region. People move; they work and live in these spaces simultaneously,” Makhura said.

Makhura’s comments follow an announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night that  consultations were under way to further ease the national lockdown from level 4 to 3 by the end of May. Ramaphosa said in doing so, areas with a higher infection rate would possibly remain under higher restrictions.

Millions of people in Gauteng live in the three metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni and movement across metros for work, business, shopping and accommodation were common.

“If you don’t manage Gauteng that way, and think that the people in Ekurhuleni are separated from the people in Johannesburg, you are likely to create us again as an epicentre, and that’s what we want to avoid,” Makhura said.

SA has been under a national lockdown for the past seven weeks and the government is lifting the restrictions incrementally in a bid to avoid a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Makhura said the province would ensure there was full compliance with the measures that have to be implemented before the province goes to the next level.

He said the provincial government wanted the province’s economy, which contributes more than a third of SA’s GDP, to be open, but that there was “no magic wand” for this except to follow the regulations given by the national government.

He warned against recklessness, saying: “We don’t want it (easing of lockdowns) at all costs.”

He said the Covid-19 hotspots in the province were shifting, and the virus was moving from the suburbs to the densely populated townships.

He placed major emphasis on containing the spread of the virus in the townships given the risk factors in these areas, which included high density, poverty and lack of access to health care.

He said the critical issue about the emerging hotspots was the large number of people in these areas and the potential pressure on the health-care systems if the coronavirus spread rapidly in Gauteng’s townships.

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