Photo: PresidencyZA / Twitter
Photo: PresidencyZA / Twitter
We may not have had a televised address from Cyril Ramaphosa in the past three weeks, but Wednesday perhaps didn’t deliver the news everyone was hoping for. The president has confirmed that most of the country will move forward into Level 3 of lockdown restrictions at the end of May – but it may not be the case for all parts of South Africa.
The transition promises to be a more exciting one than what we experienced at the beginning of the month. Stepping into Level 4 may have brought us an exercise window and put more goods on the shelves, but the economy remained constrained and still tightly bound.
A shift to Level 3 brings thousands more back into work, and President Ramaphosa has urged certain businesses to reopen their doors soon – providing the observe the appropriate social distancing guidelines for dealing with the threat of coronavirus. But some regions are likely to be held back in Level 4 conditions, due to their high infection rates.
“Without the lockdown, the death toll may have been eight times higher than what we have at the moment. By delaying the spread of the disease, we have strengthened our health system to better manage these infections. We have 25 000 additional beds we can now use for hospitalised patients.”
“We are ready to shift to a new phase of our response. We are now preparing for a further easing of the lockdown. We’ll continue to proceed cautiously: Some areas may move forward before others. By the end of May, most of us will be on Level 3. But some parts of the country will remain at Level 4, based on infection rates.”
“We’ll soon amend Level 4 restrictions for e-commerce, exercise and other businesses.”Cyril Ramaphosa
Talk of a rapid rise to Level 3 has been rife over the last two weeks. Ministers like Ebrahim Patel, Bheki Cele and even Fikile Mbalula had suggested that the next phase of lockdown would happen ‘sooner rather than later’. However, it remains of vital importance for South Africans to keep their feet on the ground.
Our lockdown works on a sliding scale, and remains dependent on the rate of infection and new cases. A sudden spike could see the country revert back to a stricter version of these regulations. And, as the president has established, not all of us will will be moving forward at the end of this month.
The Western Cape, Cape Town, and other huge municipalities such as Johannesburg and eThekwini are also home to some of the biggest death tolls and infection rates in the country. It is these regions – ironically, some of the most populated parts of the country – which could remain at Level 4 for the foreseeable future.
If you’re in the lucky cohort with lower infection rates, alcohol sales are due to make a comeback in Level 3, and cigarettes should return to the shelves – addressing a rather convoluted legal battle between our government and the tobacco industry.
As far as we are aware, there shall be no last-minute u-turns on the sale of SA’s guilty pleasures. Items such as books, household appliances and a greater range of clothing items are due to return to sale during Level 3, too. Further confirmation shall be provided by the National Command Council in the next few days.
The government’s own coronavirus website states that commercial building projects, the real estate industry and domestic businesses – such as pool, gardening and cleaning services – get to make a return once we leave Level 4 of lockdown. Again, the finer details are set to be laid out by the NCC in the next week or so.