President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa’s level 3 lockdown regulations will be relaxed to allow a number of businesses to reopen.
In a national address on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said that this will include the reopening of restaurants for sit-down meals, and personal care services including hairdressers.
However, the president has made it clear that specific and stringent safety requirements will have to be followed as part of this reopening. He added that protocols will need to be strictly adhered to for these activities to remain open.
While official guidelines will be published at a later date, the government has indicated that restaurants, bars, taverns and shebeens are still prohibited from selling alcohol for onsite consumption.
This is likely to be a blow for the struggling restaurant industry which had asked the government to allow for the serving of liquor with meals as part of its reopening plans.
Government has also indicated that while a number of non-contact sports will be allowed to resume under the revised regulations, gyms and fitness centres will remain closed.
Speaking to MyBroadband earlier in June, Virgin Active said that government is yet to provide guidelines that it must follow, but it expects some level of restrictions or conditions imposed upon it.
“Until we have a date from the government and know what their requirements are, we are prepping for all possible scenarios,” said Virgin Active.
If necessary, Virgin Active has prepared the capability to use a “book your slot” system, which would require members to book their gym sessions in advance.
Planet Fitness said that it is also working on plans to reopen its facilities.
“Planet Fitness is working around the clock to adhere to government protocol around exercise and social distancing to ensure that when day one comes, we are ready to open and it will be safe to do so,” Planet Fitness told MyBroadband.
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Following discussions with industry representatives, provincial heads, scientists as well as cabinet, Ramaphosa said that restrictions will be eased for:
- Restaurants – allowing for sit-down meals;
- Accredited and licensed accommodation facilities (except Airbnb);
- Conferences and meetings for business purposes (in-line with safety guidelines);
- Cinemas and theatres;
- Personal care services including hairdressers;
- Non-contact sports including tennis, golf, cricket and others;
- Contact sports – only for training.
In each instance, specific and stringent safety requirements have been agreed to by the various representatives of these industries, Ramaphosa said.
President Ramaphosa’s speech was also notable in that it failed to touch on the controversial topic of tobacco sales.
A number of South Africans are also eagerly awaiting the High Court judgement surrounding South Africa’s ban on the sale of cigarettes.
The case was brought against the government by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) which argued that the banning of the sale of cigarettes is irrational.
While the government argued that smoking could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases and even death, Fita said that this is not an issue that is limited to cigarettes.
On Wednesday (17 June), Fita said it was still waiting for the judgement to be handed down.
“We understand the frustrations of the many people who have supported us during our challenging of the cigarette ban in relation to judgment in this matter.
“Let us all be mindful of the fact that the record in this matter is approximately 6,000 pages long and the court has to apply its mind taking this and many other factors into consideration,” it said.
“We further wish to dismiss any allegations that we are involved in any discussions whatsoever with the government in relation to this matter, and in fact we look forward to receiving judgment.”