Level 3 looms — but not for everyone


President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

For many parts of SA, the national will gear down to level 3 at the end of May but high-risk areas may remain on level 4.

Speaking from the Union Buildings on Wednesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa did not announce an automatic level 3 transition for the whole country as many were anticipating.

Instead, he emphasised that while most of SA should be placed on Level 3, there remained parts of the republic where infection levels were high. Without naming them, he said there were “a few metropolitan areas” that were cause for concern.

“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infections remain at level 4,” he said.

“In the coming days we will also be announcing certain changes to level 4 regulations to expand permitted business activities in the retail space and e-commerce and reduce restrictions on exercise.”

Lockdown level 4 has seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases — fatalities stood at 219 on Wednesday night —  but the perilous state of the economy is putting immense pressure on government to ease restrictions.

But Ramaphosa appeared to be resolute that moving ahead too quickly could have dire consequences.

He said for those who would enjoy greater freedoms under level 3, there had to be an understanding that they would have to “change our behaviour in our own ways”.

“We will need to reorganise workplaces, schools, universities, colleges

and other public places to limit transmission. We will need to adapt to new ways of worship, socialising, exercising and meeting to minimise opportunities for the virus to spread. It is our actions now that will determine whether the advantage we gained through the lockdown can be sustained.”

“We need to take personal responsibility for own health and the health of others,” he said.

Ramaphosa acknowledged that his government had made mistakes and was aware of the criticism that had been levelled against it by a number of South Africans.

“Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory and some have been poorly explained. Implantation has sometimes been slow and enforcement has sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh. I want to reaffirm my commitment and the commitment of my government.”

Ramaphosa said despite its duration and severity, the lockdown was “absolutely necessary”.

“The number of infections would have soared and health facilities would have been overwhelmed. From the beginning our response has been guided by the world’s leading experts and the experiences of other nations have given us incredible

insights,” he said.

“Without the lockdown 80,000 South Africans could have been infected by now and the death toll could have been eight times higher.”

He said at the same stage in the US, there had been 22,000 Covid-19 deaths, and while tragic, there had been only 219 in SA.

“We should never forget our purpose was to delay spread of virus. So far we have been successful in the manner we have dealt with the virus,” he said.




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