Five-level plan to ease SA's Covid-19 lockdown from May 1: Cyril Ramaphosa

23 April 2020 - 21:08 By TimesLIVE
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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Kevin Sutherland/ File photo

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday night the country would implement a partial easing of the current Covid-19 lockdown after April 30, to spare the economy and save jobs.

“Beyond Thursday the 30th of April we will implement a risk-adjusted strategy to take a deliberate and cautious approach to ease lockdown restrictions,” he announced.

“The strategy we take now must be measured and incremental.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa updated South Africa on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the country on April 23 2020. He also announced the phased reopening of the South African economy. From the beginning of May, South Africa will go from alert level 5 to level 4.

“We cannot take action today that we deeply regret tomorrow.

“We have to balance the need to resume economic activity with the need to save lives.

“While a nationwide lockdown is probably the best means to contain the virus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely. Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living. Companies need to generate revenue.”

Ramaphosa said the government's National Coronavirus Command Council had approved a five-level plan on easing the current hard lockdown, which will be adjusted based on an assessment of the infection rate and the capacity of SA's health system to provide care to those who need it.

Level 5 means that drastic measures are required to contain the spread of the virus to save lives.

Level 4 means that some activity can be allowed to resume, subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks. Level 3 involves the easing of some restrictions, including on work and social activities, to address a high risk of transmission.

Level 2 involves the further easing of restrictions, but the maintenance of physical distancing and restrictions on some leisure and social activities to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

Level 1 means that most normal activity can resume, with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times.

Ramaphosa said the coronavirus alert level will be lowered from level 5 to level 4 with effect from Friday May 1.

How the alert levels will work.
How the alert levels will work.
Image: GICS

“This means that some activity will be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions to limit community transmission and outbreaks,” he explained.

Cigarette sales will be permitted but alcohol remains banned under the Covid-19 regulations.

Some businesses will be allowed to resume operations under specific conditions. Ramaphosa said this included “first preparing the workplace for a return to operations, followed by the return of the workforce in batches of no more than one-third”.

“In some cases, a sector will not be able to return to full production during level 4 while the risk of infection remains high.”

Businesses are encouraged to continue with a work-from-home strategy where possible. All staff who can work remotely must be allowed to do so.

The public is also encouraged to stay at home, other than for essential personal movement, doing essential work and work in sectors that are under controlled opening.

People will be allowed to exercise under strict public health conditions.

All gatherings, apart from funerals and for work, will remain prohibited.

Shortly before the president's speech, the health ministry announced there were 318 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA, with the total number of confirmed cases at 3,953. Ten new deaths were reported, resulting in a total of 75 Covid-19 deaths across the country.

Ramaphosa announced a R500bn stimulus package earlier this week, on which finance minister Tito Mboweni will provide more details on Friday.

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