SA's jarring ride through five lockdown levels

17 September 2020 - 06:00
President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on Wednesday: "We have endured a fierce and destructive storm, but by standing together, by remaining resolute, we have withstood it."
President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on Wednesday: "We have endured a fierce and destructive storm, but by standing together, by remaining resolute, we have withstood it."
Image: GCIS

South Africans have endured a fearful, vexing, at times bewildering and undeniably bumpy ride through a maze of lockdown regulations imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic since the end of March.

Anxiety about getting ill, infecting loved ones, juggling home schooling, working remotely, buying cigarettes illegally, losing jobs, losing loved ones, debt and home-brewed pineapple beer.

It's been a long road.

Who can forget a government gazette forbidding the nation to buy open shoes?

Level 5

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on March 15 and the first set of lockdown rules took effect at midnight on March 26.

Level 5 of the lockdown swiftly put an end to the sale of alcohol and tobacco. Local and international travel was prohibited. So was jogging and the walking of dogs.

The military was deployed. Schools were closed. Shopping lists were restricted to essential goods.

Level 5 lasted for 35 days. 

Level 4

May 1 saw the stringent lockdown eased to level 4, but some of the rules still proved to be bewildering.

New regulations on what clothing could be purchased - signed by trade, industry and competition minister Ebrahim Patel - were likened by the DA to something from Alice in Wonderland.

Under this level, people could only buy "closed-toe" shoes or shirts that were promoted to be "worn under jacket coats and/or knitwear”. Gatherings were also not allowed.

Level 3

Level 3 saw the ban on the sale of alcohol being partially lifted but tobacco sales prohibited. This was, however, short-lived as the president reintroduced the ban on alcohol sales after hospital trauma units saw a rise in alcohol-related admissions.

The president also reintroduced a night curfew, while the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products remained prohibited.

The ongoing bans attracted a tangle of litigation and a barrage of comments - both for and against the ban - on social media platforms.

Justifying the tobacco ban, cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said sharing cigarettes increased the spread of infection.

She became famous for explaining how, "when people zol, they put saliva on the paper" - which in turn became a hit song.

Ramaphosa also received backlash for allowing minibus taxis to operate at 100% capacity on local trips.

Level 2

When the country moved to level 2, the sale of alcohol and cigarettes was finally allowed.

Local travel was allowed. However, international travel remained prohibited.

The curfew remained in place and the national state of disaster was extended.

Level 1

SA will move to level 1 of the lockdown on Sunday September 20 - as the festive season approaches, along with concerns that socialising and travel could reignite a second wave of infections.

TimesLIVE 

A small contingent of artists, musicians and creatives protested at the Union buildings in Pretoria on September 16 2020. The protesting artists say that government has not done enough to support an embattled industry during the coronavirus pandemic.


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