Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

The government has no desire to keep stringent prohibitions in place for longer than necessary, co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said after the gazetting of the regulations for level 2 of the risk-adjusted strategy.

From Tuesday, South Africans will once again be allowed to buy tobacco products, which had been banned for the past five months, and alcohol, under certain conditions.

The five-month lockdown has had a devastating effect on SA’s economy, which is expected to suffer anything between a 7% and double-digit contraction for 2020 and lead to huge job losses as businesses are forced to either close shop or reduce staff.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Saturday that almost the entire economy would be allowed to open this week.

Level 2 regulations were gazetted on Monday afternoon.

Alcohol will be sold from Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm. Restaurants, taverns and bars will be allowed to operate and sell alcohol until 10pm, with a limit of 50 people at a time. Nightclubs would, however, remain closed.

Dlamini-Zuma, who was seen as the champion of the ban on tobacco sales, said there were no restrictions on the sale of these products but warned people not to share cigarettes.

She said now that there were sufficient hospital beds open and ventilators, there was no need for the restrictions.

Dlamini-Zuma came in for harsh criticism over the banning of the sale of tobacco products, with a number of court challenges lodged. The minister said that she did not run the government and that she was part of a collective.

“I think you are also shortchanging government and the president. The president leads a team, and it is the team that decides,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

The level 2 regulations also allow for family and social visits, but these visits are limited to 10 people.

Gyms and fitness facilities, and theatres and cinemas will be opened but with a limit of 50 people at a time. Parks and beaches will also be opened.

South Africans will be allowed to travel between provinces for any reason, including holidays.

The tourism minister will provide more details around the opening of the sector on Tuesday.

“When we further open the economy it doesn’t mean the risks are lower ... all it means is that we are trying to balance livelihoods with opening the economy, but the risk of the virus is still there,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

“While we open up pretty much everything we must ensure we keep to the health protocols. If we don’t, we will see a next wave of infections, maybe even a bigger surge, which we would like as SA to avoid. We are in it for a long haul: it is not going to finish tomorrow, so we must remain vigilant and not get tired of masks, sanitisers and social distancing,” she said.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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