Deserted Johannesburg streets during the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: ALON SKUY
Deserted Johannesburg streets during the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: ALON SKUY

The cabinet is looking at lightening Covid-19 level 3 regulations, which could see more sectors of the economy open up earlier than originally planned. 

The cabinet held a meeting on Wednesday at which it received an updated report from the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCC).

The NCC tabled a number of recommendations pertaining to moderating level 3 of the lockdown, the cabinet said in a statement. The recommendations were based on submissions made by various sectors and deliberations by the national joint operational and intelligence structure. 

SA moved to level 3 of its risk-adjusted strategy on June 1, which saw the majority of sectors reopen, but left some out in the cold. 

The lockdown was put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 but has had a devastating effect on the economy.

Business has been calling on the government to ease lockdown restrictions to allow the economy to open up. 

The World Bank has slashed SA’s growth forecasts due to the coronavirus shock, which it says will force the world into the worst recession since World War 2. The global economy is expected to shrink by 5.2%, while SA’s economy is forecast to shrink by 7.1% this year — its worst contraction in a century. 

The move to level 3 saw some sectors, which were originally only meant to open during level 2 and 1, be allowed to operate earlier, including places of worship being able to hold services and domestic air travel allowed for business purposes. 

The government is facing a number of legal challenges to the regulations gazetted during the almost three-month lockdown. 

Last week, the high court in Pretoria declared that level 4 and 3 regulations were unconstitutional and invalid. The government was ordered to review and amend the regulations within 14 business days. During this time, all level 3 regulations will remain in place. 

The government, however, has lodged an application for leave to appeal the judgment. 

The cabinet said on Thursday that it decided to defer approval of the recommendations the NCC received, pending a full health assessment report from the ministerial health advisory committee on Covid-19.

It said the NCC is expected to receive the full presentation by early next week.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za