South Africa’s level 4 lockdown extension already decided: report

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce an extension to South Africa’s adjusted level 4 lockdown on Sunday evening (11 July).

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will meet on Sunday to assess developments in the Covid-19 pandemic and the national response to this challenge.

The NCCC meeting will be followed by meetings of the president’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet.

City Press reported, however, that Cabinet decided two weeks ago that Ramaphosa would announce level 4 Covid-19 restrictions for 21 days.

However, to manage concerns from the business community, he opted for two weeks, with the intention of reviewing the lockdown thereafter.

Two cabinet members told the paper that Ramaphosa is likely to extend the lockdown by a further two weeks, which would effectively see restrictions continue until the end of July.

“While there seems to be an attempt to review restrictions now, this is likely to be a mechanical exercise, as all indications are that the status quo will remain, with room remaining open for additional restrictions, as Covid-19 infection numbers are still escalating,” a Cabinet member said.

The Sunday Times also reported that the lockdown is likely to be extended, including a ban on alcohol, and an extension to the July school holidays.

The extension comes as South Africa still reports a high number of Covid-19 cases across the country. 21,610 new Covid-19 cases were recorded On Saturday (10 July), with 211,052 active cases around the country.

A further 265 deaths were reported, taking total deaths to 64,138, while 4.2 million vaccines have been administered to date.

Senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ridhwaan Suliman noted that the curve of infections in the country’s worst-hit province of Gauteng is turning. The province still reported in excess of 10,000 new infections over the past 24 houurs.

As of 03 July 2021, 313,258 Covid-19 admissions and 63,741 in-hospital deaths were reported from 659 facilities (402 public-sector and 257 private-sector) in all nine provinces of South Africa.

Increases in admissions in Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape, and Western Cape provinces have been observed and these provinces have reached the case threshold for the third wave.

Increased admissions have also been observed in the past four weeks in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In Free State and Northern Cape, sustained decreases in admissions have been observed for four weeks.

The weekly numbers of admissions in the private sector in the third wave have surpassed the peak of admissions in the second wave in Free State, Gauteng and Northern Cape.

Decimated businesses

Businesses impacted by the lockdown, most notably restaurants and the alcohol industry, have warned that the restrictions are not sustainable.

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) said that the current restrictions continue to decimate the industry and will not be supported.

In a statement on Friday (9 July), the association says that it has reached out to every ministerial cabinet in consultation for relief and reprieve. However, to date, it said that it has not received any positive feedback or hopes of compensation.

“Government has a responsibility to hear and consult with us. Retail and transport have made no compromises nor have they had any imposed restrictions or remodelled their businesses.

“The restaurant industry will no longer tolerate compromise when there is no regard to control the uncontrolled spaces or to lock down the illicit trade while we accumulate extended debts and lose our livelihoods.

“Restaurants simply cannot survive without alcohol or sit-down patrons or diner time sales.”

Read: ‘Long Covid’ to impact jobs and sick leave in South Africa: expert

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South Africa’s level 4 lockdown extension already decided: report