SA eases lockdown to open up the economy
Wholesale and retail will be fully opened, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders
SA will further roll back restrictions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic from June 1 in a piecemeal exit from the lockdown that will allow the reopening of vast swathes of the economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced the easing of the lockdown from June 1 to level 3, allowing the majority of industries including finance and manufacturing, to return to work, and lifting the nationwide curfew and the restrictions on exercise.
The ban on the sale of alcohol would also be lifted but not on the sale of tobacco products, which will remain prohibited due to the health risks associated with smoking, Ramaphosa said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa gave an update on the government's risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19 in SA on May 24 2020.
"The burden of the lockdown has been most severe for those least able to bear it. Now it is time for most of us to return to work and to resume parts of our lives that have been on hold since the lockdown began," he said.
"However, I want to emphasise that the easing of some restrictions does not mean that the threat posed by the coronavirus has passed or that our fight against the disease is over."
SA has been in a Covid-19 nationwide lockdown for eight weeks, causing economists to forecast the worst economic contraction in at least a century.
The lockdown was put in place to curb the spread of the virus but has had a devastating effect on the country’s economy.
Ramaphosa said though the entire country would be moving to a lower lockdown level, there were still a number of hotspots identified where the virus was concentrated and infections continued to rise.
Hotspots were areas where there were more than five people per every 100,000 people or where new infections increased at a fast pace. The president said there would be a differentiated approach to deal with those areas. Five of the countries metros have been identified as hotspots – Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Ethekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and Cape Town.
Ramaphosa said the government was particularly concerned about the situation in Cape Town, which had more than half of the total infections in the country, and would be attending to this with urgency.
Intensive interventions would be implemented in hotspot areas aimed at decreasing the number of new infections.
Ramaphosa said each hotspot will be assigned a full-time team of experienced personnel such as epidemiologists, family practitioners, nurses, community health workers, public health experts and emergency medical services, to be supported by Cuban experts, who arrived in the country a few weeks ago.
Surveillance, infection control and management would be enhanced in these areas.
The president said if necessary, any part of the country could be returned to level 4 or level 5 of the lockdown if the spread of the infection was not contained despite the interventions and there was a risk that health facilities would be overwhelmed.
In time, it would also be possible to place other areas where the infections are low on level 2 or level 1, he said.
Despite the easing of the lockdown and opening of the economy, the government is asking those who do not need
to go to work or an educational institution to continue staying
Ramaphosa said all manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, professional and business services, information technology, communications, government services and media services, will fully open from June 1.
Wholesale and retail will be fully opened, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders. People will be able to leave their homes to go shopping and obtain services but all gatherings remain prohibited, except for funerals with no more than 50 people or meetings for work purposes, he said.
Alcohol will only be sold for at-home consumption, as restaurants, bars and taverns remain closed, and the sale
will be under strict conditions, on specified days and for
Ramaphosa said an announcement on this would be made once discussions with the sector were completed.
The president said accommodation and domestic air travel — except for business travel, which would be phased in on dates to be announced — will remain prohibited, as well as conferences, events, entertainment and sporting activities; and personal-care services, including hairdressing and beauty services.