First details on how South Africa wants to lift the coronavirus lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that government will use a ‘risk-adjusted approach’ for the phased re-opening of South Africa’s economy after lockdown.

In a national address on Tuesday (21 April), Ramaphosa that this will include balancing the continued need to limit the spread of the coronavirus with the need to get people back to work.

“As I have said previously if we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease,” he said.

“We will, therefore, follow a phased approach, guided by the best available scientific evidence, to gradually lift the restrictions on economic activity.”

While Ramaphosa indicated that more information on this phased re-opening will be presented on Thursday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has given an overview of what this ‘phased re-opening’ may look like.

In a parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma said that it is unlikely that the lockdown will be eased all at once countrywide, and that there may be ‘differentiated lockdowns’ in provinces with a high number of coronavirus cases such as Gauteng, KZN, and the Western Cape.

This means that a district which has had fewer cases or a less likely chance of transmission may have different lockdown rules than a more ‘high-risk’ area, she said.

Dlamini Zuma added that a number of bans are likely to remain in place after the countrywide lockdown is lifted on 30 April, aligning with the country’s rules on social distancing before the lockdown was implemented.

She said that this will include:

  • Limitations on the number of people at gatherings and events;
  • Limitations on the number of people that attend funerals;
  • Limitations on the number of people in taxis and public transport;
  • The gradual reintroduction of aeroplane and train services;
  • The country’s borders will likely remain closed for ‘some time’.

Dlamini Zuma noted that once the lockdown is lifted, there is likely to be a spike in coronavirus cases. Depending on how rapid this spike is, government may need to look at new measures.

She added that other ‘wellbeing’ factors may lead to government relaxing restrictions – citing the upcoming winter months and the need for children to buy warmer clothes as an example.

Read: Ramaphosa announces R500 billion support package as South Africa gets ready to slowly re-open its economy

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First details on how South Africa wants to lift the coronavirus lockdown