SA moved to lockdown level 3 from June 1 with much jubilation, long liquor store queues and (mostly) happy parents looking forward to sending their children back to school. When President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on May 13 to announce this intention, 219 Covid-19 deaths had been recorded. The president acknowledged that the virus had not only taken a toll on health, “but also on our people’s ability to earn a living, to feed themselves and their families, to learn and to develop, and to enjoy many of the basic freedoms that we daily take for granted”.

Not only has the virus affected these freedoms, but so too the policy response choices made and the way in which these have been implemented. In general, policy choices have to consider the current and future costs of any given decision under the matrix of uncertainty and probability. Each decision carries risks. Downsides are prevalent, especially if decisions are not informed by high-quality data or well-informed hy...

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