South Africa won’t rush to lift lockdown as it’s trying to avoid a ‘Black October’: Dlamini-Zuma

South Africa has not yet returned to ‘normal’ as it is not yet 100% ready for the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Speaking in a virtual parliamentary briefing on Tuesday (23 June), Dlamini-Zuma explained that government has ‘not rushed’ to lift the country’s coronavirus lockdown over fears of a surge in cases.

“What the government has now done is to make sure that as we ease the lockdown, we must not ease it in a rushed manner because we will get a surge that we may not be able to deal with.

“So we have had to open up slowly. Why?  Because on the one hand, we have to save lives. We would like to have as few people as possible that we can…die from this. We don’t want to have massive deaths.

“This country during the Spanish flu lost more than 300,000 people, almost in six weeks around ‘Black October’ and we don’t want that situation. So we have to balance saving lives but at the same time, we have to balance livelihoods.

“That’s why we are gradually opening up the economy and matching that with the readiness of the health services.”

Dlamini-Zuma added that level 3 of the lockdown has ‘pretty much opened up most of the economy’ and that the country will now move to an ádvanced level 3′ where even more businesses will be allowed to reopen.

However, she noted that country will still need to stick to strict health protocols so as to minimise the spread of the virus.

She said that this will include a continued ban on inter-provincial travel – except in limited circumstances – as well as strict rules around gatherings such as funerals.

Dlamini-Zuma said that the government was listening to various stakeholders and would adapt the country’s regulations as time goes on.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will move to an ‘advanced’ level 3 lockdown, with a number of business sectors reopened to the public.

Speaking in a national address on Wednesday evening (17 June), Ramaphosa said that many businesses that stopped operating on 27 March when the lockdown first came into effect have not been able to operate.

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;
  • Casinos;
  • 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.

These will need to be put in place and protocols will need to be strictly adhered to for these activities to remain open, he said.

Further details on opening dates and the guidelines that must be followed will be published at a later date.


Read: Ramaphosa warns of job losses: ‘We have to be realistic about our prospects’

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South Africa won’t rush to lift lockdown as it’s trying to avoid a ‘Black October’: Dlamini-Zuma