JOHANNESBURG – A lockdown imposed by South African authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus is due to expire at the end of April, but restrictions on factory production, alcohol sales, air travel and some other activities could be retained for some time to come.
The government is considering using a system of alert levels to assess whether to gradually ease restrictions after the lockdown ends, according to a presentation made to the ruling party’s National Working Committee on Monday, said a person who attended the meeting and asked not to be named.
Alert levels will be determined by the National Command Council, which will follow recommendations from the ministers of health and trade and industry and be based on how quickly the virus is spreading and the health system’s readiness to handle cases, the presentation shows. Levels may be determined nationally or provincially.
Domestic air travel will only be restored once there’s “moderate virus spread, with high readiness” and movement between provinces should be limited, according to the document, which was seen by Bloomberg News.
It proposes retaining restrictions on restaurants, hotels, bars, conference centers, entertainment venues, sporting events and religious and social gatherings after the lockdown, regardless of the alert level. No gatherings of more than 10 people outside of a workplace will be permitted.
The lockdown, which has halted most economic activity, began March 27. President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to address the nation on Thursday on measures begin re-opening the economy.
Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking to confirm the content of the presentation.
Here’s how the alert system could work:
By Rene Vollgraaff and Paul Vecchiatto