Another day in lockdown, the 39th so far by our count, and the journey is just beginning for South Africa. Level 4 may allow us to order takeaways and briefly exercise outdoors, but the restrictions – ranging from essential goods to closing down workspaces – remain stringent.
There are no entertainment venues open. We have a nighttime curfew in place. Rolling roadblocks are in operation to ensure all road users are travelling for the right reasons. Very few people can leave their provinces or towns… and let’s not even get into that whole ‘alcohol and cigarette ban’ – Monday’s are already tough enough.
Last week, we did at least see one small step in the right direction. A number of items were added to our ‘list of essentials‘. The scope of what we can purchase at the supermarket, or add to our carts online, has expanded. We’ve decided to quickly list every item you can now legally buy in South Africa, including things that were available during Level 5 – and products which weren’t initially clarified.
Talk of moving into Level 3 of lockdown “over the next few weeks” has been rife, following comments made by the government’s trade committee. They suggested that favourable data could “move us along quickly”.
However, a rapid shift through the gears relies on stable infection rates, and the ability to control this disease in townships: Sunday saw sharp rises of the illness in our sprawling settlements, along with the biggest daily increase in cases registered in South Africa so far. Although bolstered efforts with testing and screening have played their part in the spike, it may be enough to put the breaks on our progress out of Level 4.