SA to move to level 3 lockdown from June 1
All of South Africa will move to level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown on June, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday.
"Moving to alert level 3 marks a significant shift in our approach to the pandemic. This will result in the opening up of the economy and the removal of a number of restrictions on the movement of people, while significantly expanding and intensifying our public health interventions," Ramaphosa said.
The nationwide night-time curfew will also be lifted.
Ramaphosa confirmed on Sunday that South Africa now has 22 583 Covid-19 cases and 429 people have died from the coronavirus since the country's first case was confirmed on March 5.
Ramaphosa said that there are currently around 110 000 active coronavirus cases in the country.
He said areas with a high incidence of coronavirus infections would be declared hotspots. These areas included Cape Town, Tshwane, Ethekwini, Ekurhuleni, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and would see intensive healthcare interventions.
"We are particularly concerned about the situation in the city of Cape Town and in the Western Cape in general," Ramaphosa said.
The hotspots will be dealt with using a "differentialed approach", Ramaphosa said.
A full-time team of experienced personnel which includes epidemiologists, nurses,family practitioners and support staff will be assigned to each hotspot.
Ramaphosa said that these hotspots could be moved back to alert level 4 or 5 at any time if there is a need.
"The number of infected people could have been much higher had we not acted when we did to impose drastic containment measures. We are consequently in a much better position than many other countries were at this stage in the progression of the disease," he said.
The president added that under level 3 lockdown the sale of alcohol would be allowed under strict trading conditions within clearly defined times. He said the ban on the sale of tobacco products remains in place due to the health risks associated with smoking.
Public gatherings remain prohibited with the exception of funerals, which are limited to 50 mourners, and meetings in the workplace.
The president also announced the reopening of the aviation sector for the purposes of business travel only.
Ramaphosa was addressing the nation on Sunday night to provide an update on developments in South Africa’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19.
His address follows recent meetings of Cabinet, the National Coronavirus Command Council and the President’s Coordinating Council, which considered the prospects for the country’s progression from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, the Presidency said.
In recent days, Ramaphosa has also held consultative meetings with the business, labour and community constituencies of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac); leaders of political parties; traditional leaders; the leadership of interfaith communities; the South African Council of Churches and the tourism industry, which is the single largest source of employment in the private sector.
** 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