Level 3 Lockdown regions Cape Town

Cape Town Central Business District skyline seen from Lions Head, Western Cape, South Africa (Credit Image: © AGF via ZUMA Press)

Level 3 or 4: Which parts of SA may move forward – and who ‘stays back’?

Ramaphosa says he plans to move most of the country into Level 3 of lockdown – and hold a few regions back in Level 4 – this month. Yes, it’s complicated.

Level 3 Lockdown regions Cape Town

Cape Town Central Business District skyline seen from Lions Head, Western Cape, South Africa (Credit Image: © AGF via ZUMA Press)

Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a fierce curveball on Wednesday evening, as his anticipated speech about pushing South Africa into Level 3 of lockdown came with a caveat or two.

Regional lockdown shifts likely to be introduced this month

During his speech, the president did deliver the news we’d all been waiting for. But not everybody will be best pleased. Cyril confirmed that most regions of the country would move forward to Level 3 of lockdown ‘at the end of May’, but parts where the rates of infection remain high could be kept at Level 4:

“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert Level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on Level 4.”

“We will make further announcements after the completion of the consultations in the coming days, we will also be announcing certain changes to Level 4 regulations to expand permitted business activities in the retail space and e-commerce, and reduce restrictions on exercise.”

Cyril Ramaphosa


Judging by the latest disease figures, there are a few provinces that are showing very low case numbers and infection rates. The Northern Cape leads by example, with just 30 reported cases so far. North West has little over 50 patients, as does Limpopo (but with three deaths). Mpumalanga actually has more cases than Limpopo but, like NC, there hasn’t been a fatality to report.

These four provinces would be the first to argue they could ease restrictions and move in Level 3. But this comes with its own challenges: People may not feel safe if their lockdown is advanced before anyone else’s. Plus, it would make matters very complicated for border towns and intra-provincial travel laws if one location gets to Level 2 ahead of others..

Which areas of South Africa might stay in Level 4?

The Western Cape – which has the highest number of cases in SA – is a likely candidate to be held back in Level 4. Cape Town itself has become the coronavirus epicentre, too. Earlier this week, health minister Zweli Mkhize said Johannesburg, eThekwini and the Mother City ‘could face tighter restrictions’ than anyone else. Gauteng and the Eastern Cape could also be in trouble, with almost 4 000 COVID-19 cases between them.

“We are dealing with a dynamic situation and will monitor and evaluate the progress in various parts (of the country). It must be expected that there may be areas where it might not be the best way, just to let everything get back to normal: We might need to consider heightened interventions of lockdown in various forms.”

“On all these issues, we will need your support and cooperation. We still have a long way to go and still expect that a lot of pressure is still coming to our communities, especially with the flu season coming. Hotspots like Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini may require tighter restrictions.”

Zweli Mkhize, Sunday 10 May