President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The entire country will be moved to a less strict lockdown level on June 1, which will mark the return of most sectors of the economy, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday evening following various meetings and consultation over the past week in which the move to a less restrictive lockdown level was discussed.

“The alert level for the whole country should be lowered from level 4 to 3 with effect from June 1 2020,” Ramaphosa said.

During level three, South Africans will now be able to buy alcohol for consumption at home, but the sale of tobacco products remains prohibited, Ramaphosa said, citing health reasons. All gatherings remain prohibited.

SA has been under a lockdown which was imposed under a state of disaster for the past two months in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The lockdown has been incrementally relaxed as it went from level 5, which is the strictest, to level 4, and now to level 3. Level 1 is the most relaxed.

Ramaphosa said the move to level 3 marked a significant shift in SA's approach to the pandemic as it will open up the economy  and remove a number of restrictions to the movement of people.

He  said as SA moved to level 3, it remained important to be aware that there were still areas in the country that remained hotspots, which included most of the metros in SA.

He warned that areas could be moved back to level 4 or level 5.

President Cyril Ramaphosa updated SA on the government's risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19 in SA on May 24 2020.

The  president noted that 23,583 people had tested positive for Covid-19 by Sunday evening, and 429 people had died as a result of the highly infectious disease.

Ramaphosa said one-third of the cumulative cases was confirmed in the past week.  

“We must expect these numbers to rise faster and sharper,” Ramaphosa said.

He emphasised that all modelling showed things will get much worse before they got  better, and that the duration and impact of the pandemic depended on the actions of the society.