Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa says a lockdown is the most effective form of containing the Covid-19 coronavirus, but people ‘need to eat’ and the economy needs to get going again.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Thursday and said the country would go into a risk-adjusted strategy to open up the economy following a five-week national lockdown, meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
This approach includes an alert level approach which includes five levels. The country is currently on Level 5 and from May 1 the alert will drop to Level 4.
Ramaphosa said strict measures would be put in place to ensure that the opening up of industries would not risk increasing infections.
Some of the restrictions that will be lifted include the sale of cigarettes and the easing of rules on exercising in public. The sale of alcohol is still prohibited on Level 4.
Public transportation will continue, but with strict restrictions and hygiene measures. Travelling between provinces will remain barred and the borders will remain closed and only repatriation of citizens will be allowed.
The companies that will be allowed to operate will only be allowed to have one-third of their workforce in operation. The president said those who could work from home were encouraged to continue doing so.
Public gatherings will still not be permitted, this includes churches.
Ministers that form part of the national command council are expected to outline the various industries that will be allowed to re-open more details of the phasing out approach on Friday morning.
Ramaphosa said the level of restrictions will be adjusted after discussion with the National Coronavirus Command Council.
The levels are as follows:
Alert Level 5 – Drastic measures to contain the spread of the virus
Alert Level 4 – Extreme precautions to limit community transmission, while allowing some economic activity.
Alert Level 3 – Restrictions on many activities including workplaces and socially to address high-risk transmissions
Alert Level 2 – Physical distancing and restrictions on leisure and social activities
Alert Level 1 – Most normal activity can resume with precautions and health guidelines to be followed all the time.
There will also be separate levels which will be on a national level, provincial level and municipal level. Ramaphosa said this was meant to address areas based on the risks posed by the virus in particular areas.
The president said there was clear evidence that the lockdown, which began at the end of March, was working.
By Zintle Mahlati