Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says that South Africa is unlikely to review its lockdown restrictions until it sees a decline in active Covid-19 cases.
President Cyril Ramaphaosa moved to South Africa to an adjusted level 3 lockdown at the end of December, with the aim of reviewing the regulations by 15 January.
However, the latest extended level 3 lockdown – announced by the president on Monday evening (11 January) – has not been given a review date.
“(These restrictions) will only be reviewed once we have passed the Covid-19 peak and when the numbers have declined sufficiently and not to take us to another wave,” Dlamini-Zuma said in a media briefing on Tuesday.
The minister said that the latest extension and restrictions are being introduced with consideration for both balancing the opening of the economy and saving lives.
She added that it was not the goal of the government to arrest or punish citizens and asked that people to follow the regulations so that they do not face possible fines or imprisonment.
The extended level 3 lockdown announced by Ramaphosa on Monday means that the prohibition on alcohol sales will continue.
South Africans are also prohibited from visiting beaches in provinces which have been labelled as hotspot areas. The latest extension has also introduced new rules, including a shorter curfew and the decision to close the country’s land borders.
These restrictions are seen as necessary as South Africa’s Cocvid-19 cases have continued to climb in recent weeks.
Since the start of the new year, 190,000 new cases have been reported, alongside 4,600 deaths. More than 15,000 South Africans are currently in hospital, with approximately a third of these patients on oxygen support.
As a proportion of the population, the province with the highest average number of cases over the last seven days is KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
Ramaphosa said that infections in Gauteng are growing exponentially, with this number set to rise as more holidaymakers return home from the coastal areas. This surge in increases is due to a new Covid-19 variant in the country which means that many more people have become infected in a far shorter space of time.