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‘Level three will require great discipline and responsibility’ — Dlamini-Zuma

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has reiterated that the whole of South Africa will be moving to Covid-19 alert level three from June 1 — Monday.  

This will be done under strict observation, especially of areas that have been deemed coronavirus hotspots.

Speaking on Thursday, the minister fleshed out the practical details of lockdown level three, which President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in an address on Sunday

  • Liquor sales will be allowed from 9am to 5pm, but only if people buy it and consume it somewhere else; 
  • The sale of tobacco related products remains prohibited, although tobacco for the export market is legal; 
  • Churches will be open “for only fifty people”, who Dlamini-Zuma said “must be screened for the virus, wear masks, sanitise and practise strict social distance”;
  • Interprovincial travel will be allowed for funerals and also for people going back to school and work, but will require a permit; 
  • Air travel will be permitted for domestic flights;
  • Lodges, hotels and B&Bs will remain closed unless it is for business- or work-related travel; and
  • Entertainment venues, restaurants and food outlets will remain closed, and food will be available for collection and delivery only.

Dlamini-Zuma also pleaded with South Africans to adhere to restrictions and protect themselves and others from the spread of the virus. “The virus does not move. It is moved by people. The danger now is likely to be higher. We must be cognisent of reversing the danger. Those who are 60 and above are encouraged to stay home and go out only when it’s really necessary. The mortality rate in those groups is much higher than the younger groups,” she said. 

“The next alert level requires a lot of discipline and responsibility. We are trying to balance saving lives and boosting the livelihoods of South Africans,” she added.

Focus on the economy

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said the focus now is on getting the economy working again.

“This is the most significant opening of our economy. All sectors will operate fully for South Africans and export all over the world. All retail, furniture, appliances and clothing stores will now be open, although there might be a few exceptions. Agriculture and food productions will also now fully function,” said Patel.

He said the lockdown had come at great sacrifice but had bought time for the healthcare system. Hospitals have upgraded and their expanded bed capacity, as well as trained more staff. The stocks of critical healthcare equipment, including masks and hand sanitiser, have been built up.

 “The lockdown is effective, but it also comes with damage. It hurts the economy. So we developed sharp instruments in forms of these levels from level five to one,” said Patel.

From Monday, eight million workers will potentially be going back to work, he said. “Those who can work from home, should be encouraged to do so. The sale of alcohol had been a contentious issue. There were  concerns about the challenge of maintaining staying at home, among others. After consulting extensively with the industry and those working in the alcohol sector, many of them recognised the government’s concerns.”

The ministers said the government would continue to focus on several hotspots. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said earlier this week that the lockdown level could change for different regions if the spread of Covid-19 accelerates there. Theses include the Buffalo City, Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane, eThekwini, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg metros; and the Chris Hani, West Coast, Overberg, Cape Winelands, and iLembe districts.

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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