Level 4 lockdown message on WhatsApp slammed as fake news
Cape Town - Just hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation after rumours of a hard lockdown, fake news has been circulating over WhatsApp over looming level 4 restrictions.
The message states: “We just had confirmation from National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) that employers/businesses must prepare for level 4 provincial lockdown for 30 days from January 16 to February 15 and only 10% workforce capacity.
“All international travel and borders will shut down – date to be confirmed as all travellers will be given time to leave or travel back to their home province. Alcohol and tobacco sales will be impacted; with more strict curfew hours.
“Under level 4 restrictions that were in place in May, travel between provinces was banned, with the exception of transporting goods, and borders remained closed to international travel, except for the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens.”
Director of the Government Communication and Information System Phumla Williams confirmed that the WhatsApp message doing the rounds was untrue: “The information being peddled purportedly from Nedlac on planned level 4 lockdown announcement is not true. It is fake news.”
It's not the first time unconfirmed messages regarding Ramaphosa implementing lockdown restrictions surfaced, particularly around the tobacco ban.
Sources have, however, confirmed to the Cape Argus that a recommendation was made to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to move the country to level 4 of the lockdown for 30 days, but no decision had been taken.
Reports have indicated that Ramaphosa will be leaving South Africa on level 3 of the nationwide lockdown and continue the ban on the sale of alcohol.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, said: “The address follows meetings in recent NCCC, the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet.
“President Ramaphosa also hosted a virtual engagement on Sunday between government and interfaith leaders on the Covid-19 Risk-Adjusted Strategy which is an inclusive national effort that enables adaptive responses to the shifting pandemic. This engagement focused on the unfolding pandemic in the country and on the continent, including efforts to secure vaccines for all.”