Despite so much uncertainty and the ever-changing rules of the ministers who form the so-called National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), President Cyril Ramaphosa determined that South Africa will move down to threat level 3 as of next week Monday, the 1st of June. He announced this in another live address on Sunday, in which he also said that the various ministers attached to the NCCC would explain in detail what the new regulations would encompass, by Tuesday (three days ago). The country held its breath and then came the notice that there would not be any announcement on Tuesday, because the ministers had to “relook their strategy” after Ramaphosa announced that places of worship would also be reopened. The NCCC said they would finally reveal their plans on Thursday afternoon (yesterday).
Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other recognised places of worship will be allowed to resume services with a maximum amount of 50 people or less depending on the space available from 1st of June. In response to this the country’s biggest church, Zion Christian Church (ZCC) has stated that they will not reopen under Level 3 and all their churches will remain closed until further notice. ZCC Bishop Dr BE Lekganyane made this announcement on Thursday (yesterday) and said that they do not feel it is safe enough to reopen yet.
What South Africans can expect under Level 3 lockdown regulations include a complete scrapping of the 20:00 to 05:00 daily curfew and a further relaxation of the ridiculous three-hour morning exercise window period – although you will not be allowed to exercise in groups. You will be allowed to go to church, but not to the homes of family or friends, which seems about as illogical as the prohibition on the sale of shorts a week ago.
In the briefing which was finally broadcast on Thursday afternoon at 14:00 (yesterday, a half an hour before our deadline), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stammered through her prepared speech which included a number of repetitions related to the alleged scientific studies upon which her and the rest of the council’s decision were seemingly based. NDZ reiterated that anyone who moves into a public space would need to wear a mask, preferably a cloth mask or any other homemade material that covers the mouth and nose.
Announcing the drop to alert level 3 from the current level 4, it was clear that she was not overly excited about the relaxing of the regulations but had to abide by the president’s wishes. “In the areas that are not hotspots we will allow movement to work, to buy or obtain goods and services, for exercise, for medical procedures but the movement between provinces will still be prohibited unless for work or business, for moving house or for funerals. Given that schools will open in a phased approach, there will be open travel between provinces for students and teachers.”
Restaurants, shebeens, taverns, nightclubs, bars, casino, cinemas will remain closed. Food will be available from restaurants only for collection or delivery. Hotels and lodges and all other accommodation facilities will have to remain closed except for confined tourists, quarantine, and isolation, but also for people who are traveling for business and work.
Travel between provinces is not permitted except for essential services or carriers of permits to attend funerals. International ports of entry remain closed except for repatriation or evacuations and imports and exports. (No mention of the open gates between Zimbabwe and South Africa as highlighted on page 3 in this publication).
Sale of tobacco and tobacco products including vaping is still prohibited except for exporting. Sales of alcohol will be permitted between Mondays and Thursdays from 09:00 to 17:00 only. No liquor licenses will be issued for events or functions. A special court will be setup to enable the granting of eviction notices to those who have not paid rent. This, according to Dlamini-Zuma, will be in cases where it is deemed fair. More on this will be announced in future.
All public transport services will be able to resume which has led many to fear a sudden spike in the number of infections as roughly eight million people prepare to return to their place of business. Ramaphosa said there needs to be a partnership between commuters, taxi and bus operators, businesses, and government to prevent the spread of the virus on public transport but he said that Fikile Mbalula would detail how it would work. Businesses are encouraged to take responsibility for transporting their workers where possible.
Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners can return to school during Level 3 and higher education institutions can allow up to 33% of students back on campus. Nobody knows what he meant by 33% exactly, or which students this will include, or how the percentage will be determined. Will the universities decide which year-students will be allowed back, will there be a lucky draw, will there be guidelines from government, or will it only include those who live on campus? Teachers’ union SADTU has warned that schools in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo were not ready to open due to a shortage of PPE and sanitizers. They have urged their members to stay away from work until all the issues have been resolved. There have also been reports of PPE being stolen from some schools.
Please stay tuned to our Facebook page and our website at www.reallysa.co.za for any updates on the covid-19 regulations as they are made public.