Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

South Africa goes to Covid-19 level 2 on Monday

In an expected move, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced South Africa will move to level two of the coronavirus lockdown. 

This means that restrictions on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes will now be lifted, and a slew of other regulations will be relaxed.

An indication of what was expected to be an extension of the lockdown, albeit with greater freedoms for South Africans, came when Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced the extension of the already five-month-long national state of disaster for another month until September 15.

In an address to the nation on Saturday night, Ramaphosa announced that among other changes, interprovincial travel would now be allowed, there will be unrestricted flight travel within South Africa, families may now visit each other, and all government offices and services will now be open to the public. 

Level two regulations include:

  • The opening up of interprovincial travel;
  • Family and social visits are now allowed while exercising “extreme caution”; 
  • Restaurants, bars and taverns can open, at certain times and with limited numbers of patrons;
  • Tobacco products can be sold;
  • Alcohol can be sold, subject to certain restrictions; 
  • Curfew remains between 10pm and 4am; and
  • International travel is still not permitted. 

Economic impact

Prefacing the announcement of the move to level two, Ramaphosa acknowledged the effect it has had on South Africans’ personal lives, as well as the effects on the local economy. 

Last month, the National Income Dynamics Study — Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (Nids-Cram) estimated that more than three million jobs had been shed as a result of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. 

“The last five months have been extraordinarily difficult for all of us … But for many people it has meant hardship and hunger; it has caused pain, anxiety and despair that no person should endure,” Ramaphosa said. 

Flattening the curve

But the president stressed that lockdown interventions have worked to prepare South Africa’s fragile public-health system, while also managing to flatten the curve of the trajectory of the number of cases. 

The numbers point to an inflection point. While there are 583 652 cases and more than 11 000 deaths, there are “signs of hope” with a recovery rate at 80% and the new case load, which reached 12 000 a day, dropping down to 5 000 a day. 

The virus appears to have peaked in several provinces, including the Western Cape, where it was highest, in the Eastern Cape where it kept rising, and in Gauteng where it was alarmingly going up — and possibly in KwaZulu-Natal as well. 

But, despite the relaxation of several lockdown restrictions, Ramaphosa warned that a second spike in infections if South Africans are not careful.

“The risk of infection now becomes greater as more people return to work; they move around more. We cannot be complacent and abandon the health precautions we need to save our lives and the lives of others. Even the slightest lapse in alertness could lead to a resurgence on a scale far greater than what we have seen so far,” Ramaphosa said.

This follows similar patterns in other countries that have opened up after lockdown periods. 

Ramaphosa said, despite the overall effect of the lockdown, the restrictions have served their  purpose. And, nearly half a year since the first reported cases of Covid-19 in South Africa, fewer people are presenting with symptoms at health facilities. The president also said fewer people are requiring admission to hospitals, and the demand for tests has dropped. 

“Most of our health facilities have proven resilient and capable and able to deal with the surge …The progress we are recording would now not have been possible without the dedication and professionalism of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The progress we have made would not have been possible without the sacrifices of the people of our country,” Ramaphosa added. 

Ramaphosa’s to-do list

Giving an update on evidence of Covid-related corruption, the president again promised that those found guilty of graft would be punished. In his last address, the president announced a multi-agency team to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption, while also recouping money from offenders. 

“We have witnessed individuals who have sought to profit through corrupt means from this pandemic. We are taking decisive action to stop this to bring those responsible to book,” he warned. 

Next up on Ramaphosa’s to-do list is to rebuild an economy that has been contracting since before the coronavirus pandemic. He said the creation of jobs will be at the centre of his economic plan, with a focus on infrastructure.

“We have proven our resilience over the past five months … But we are weathering a long and difficult storm. We are enduring great hardship and suffering that is unbearable.  But we will continue to stand firm against this onslaught,” Ramaphosa said. 

Watch the president’s address again:

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. For the latest updates and political analysis, sign up to our daily elections newsletter.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.
Sipho Kings
Sipho Kings is the acting editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Local government elections: Why it’s rational to vote with your...

Voting tactically may seem like a realistic, mature option, but it compromises the integrity of your vote and is corrosive to the long-term health of democracy

SA proposes new climate finance target ahead of COP26

Long-standing issues on climate finance will make or break COP26, says environment, forestry and fisheries minister

Local government elections: Port Edwards’ residents rely on ‘holy’ water...

The Ugu district municipality has, for years, failed to provide a constant source of clean water and parties are pitching their elections campaigns around the crisis

Eskom to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid load-shedding for elections

Stage four load-shedding rolled out to ensure the polls on Monday 1 November are energy secure

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…