Patrons visiting a supermarket in Plettenberg Bay sanitize their hands and have their temperature checked before entering the store during South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown. File photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Patrons visiting a supermarket in Plettenberg Bay sanitize their hands and have their temperature checked before entering the store during South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown. File photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Mixed reaction from opposition parties to Ramaphosa's lockdown relaxation plans

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Apr 24, 2020

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Johannesburg - The DA has backed plans for South Africa's gradual emergence from a Covid-19 lockdown as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday night, calling for clear and unambiguous details on how it will be implemented.

The EFF however warned the government against prematurely re-opening the economy without a sound scientific basis, noting South Africa still had a high daily number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus which has ravaged the world since first emerging in China last December.

In a national address broadcast live on television, Ramaphosa said the country would from May 1 shift to a less drastic version of the lockdown which has been in place since March 27 to try and contain transmissions of the coronavirus, allowing some businesses to resume operations in a staggered manner.

He said the country's borders would remained closed except for the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens. Travel between provinces would also still be prohibited, save for the transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals.

The DA said the measures were in line with its own proposals for a "smart lockdown" model.

"This phased, risk-adjusted model, whereby restrictions are lifted as and when the data suggests it is safe, is critical to protecting precious jobs and ensuring that the livelihood of millions of South Africans is saved," interim leader John Steenhuisen said.

"What is also crucial is that any such a phased lifting of lockdown restrictions is accompanied by both a massive increase in testing, tracing and tracking, and the publishing of detailed and reliable data on a range of Covid-19 information which must include localised breakdowns of testing data, infection and mortality data and healthcare data."

In his speech, Ramaphosa said South Africa would adopt five levels of responses to Covid-19, from the current Level 5 which entails the most stringent restrictions, to Level 1, where most normal activity can resume, with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times.

The country will shift to Level 4 from May 1, which allows some activity to resume "subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks".

In its reaction, the EFF cautioned against the rushed re-opening of economic sectors that require multitudes of employees to be in contact with each other "because this will certainly expose them to higher risks of contracting the virus".

It also urged the government to provide guidance on what should happen to the 2020 academic calendars, as South African schools and institutes of higher learning have remained closed although some students have had access to online learning facilities.

African News Agency (ANA)

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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