Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that a decision to move South Africa to a higher lockdown level is currently being discussed by government officials.
In an interview with the SABC, Mkhize said that the decisions will be based on recommendations from epidemiological experts as well as business and members of civil sector.
He said that there have been recommendations to introduce a stricter lockdown as part of a consultation process based on scientific evidence.
However, he noted that the government has also received a request from the religious sector to allow for increased church attendance over the Easter weekend.
“This is a sensitive period where there is the vulnerability and the chance of the risk that we could have a super spreading event, with all the festivities and activities that go with the Easter long weekend.
“So the advisory was for a temporary increase in restrictions over this period of time,” he said.
He added that the government has to take into account that we must discourage super-spreader events over the Easter weekend, we need to avoid inter-provincial movement which could lead to spreading the virus.
However, he noted that South Africans have largely learnt their lessons over the past year on issues such as mask-wearing and social distancing, indicating that government may not have to be overly strict with a lockdown.
Epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim echoed said that if it were up to him, he would also move the country to at least lockdown level 2 as a precautionary measure.
“I don’t know if we will have a third wave after Easter. But I don’t want to wait to find out. I would rather take the precautions and reduce our chances of a third wave,” he told TimesLive.
Speaking to eNCA, Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) chair professor Barry Schoub said that there has been an advisory from the committee that tighter lockdown restrictions be put in place – temporarily – over the “sensitive” Easter period.
“Over this period…there is a vulnerability, a chance, a risk that we could see super spreader events will all the festivities and activities that go on over the weekend. So the advisory was for a temporary increase in restrictions over this period of time,” he said.
The professor said that it would likely only be for the Easter weekend and perhaps a “little bit over that”, should the advice be taken.