The coronavirus pandemic in South Africa is going to get much worse before it gets better…the duration, scale and impact of the pandemic depends on our actions as a society and on our behaviour as individuals.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday 24 May announced the easing of lockdown restrictions to level 3 from 1 June 2020, but warned that the risk of a massive increase in infections in South Africa was now greater than ever. Among other factors, the risk of transmission in public transport would increase as 8 million people return to work.
Level 3 will involve the return to operation of most sectors of the economy, subject to observance of strict health protocols and social distancing rules.
There will be a phased re-opening of schools – Grades 7 and 12 learners return from 1 June; however, no parent will be forced to send their child to school if they are worried about safety.
The return to work will be phased in so the workplace can be made coronavirus-ready.
The lowering of the alert level to 3 was based on a risk-adjusted approach that takes into account the level of infections and rate of transmission, the capacity of health facilities, the extent of the implementation of public health interventions and the economic and social impact of continued restrictions, the President said.
Allowed under level 3
- People will be able to leave their homes to buy goods or obtain services including medical care.
- Exercise any time of the day, but not in groups.
- The curfew on the movement of people will be lifted.
- Alcohol for home consumption sold under strict conditions, on specified days and hours.
- Partial opening of spiritual worship and counselling services subject to certain standards.
- High-risk economic activities including restaurants, bars and taverns, except for delivery or collection of food.
- Accommodation and domestic air travel, except for business travel, which will be phased in on dates to be announced.
- Conferences, events, entertainment and sporting activities.
- Personal care services, including hairdressing and beauty services.
- National borders will remain closed except for the transport of goods and repatriation of nationals.
- The sale of tobacco products
- All gatherings except for funerals with no more than 50 people or workplace meetings for work purposes.
- Any place open to the public where cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational, exhibitional, organisational or similar activities may take place
Coronavirus hotspots – areas where there are more than 5 infected people per every 100 000 people, or where new infections are increasing quickly – are Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Ethekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and Cape Town, as well as West Coast, Overberg and Cape Winelands district municipalities in the Western Cape, Chris Hani district in the Eastern Cape, and iLembe district in KwaZulu-Natal.
“As scientists had predicted, the infections in our country have now started to rise sharply,” the President said. And we should expect that these numbers will rise even further and even faster.”
Of 22,583 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, 11,000 are active.
20 000 hospital beds have been, and are being, repurposed for COVID-19 cases, and 27 field hospitals are being built around the country.
A shortage of diagnostic medical supplies as a result of the great demand for these supplies across the world had contributed to lengthy turnaround times for coronavirus testing, which in turn had an impact on the effectiveness of programmes, the President said.
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