By Ashok Ramsarup :: The South African government has announced a five-level lockdown restriction starting from the 1st May in a bid to avoid a massive surge in “infections and an uncontrollable” increase of the Novel Coronavirus-19 that had plagued the world.
Speaking to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the lockdown would ease some businesses but with a proviso that it would re-open under strict conditions in the country. The president made it abundantly clear that the current restrictions would remain as the pandemic continue to increase.
“A risk-adjusted strategy will be implemented which the government will take a deliberate and cautious approach to the easing of the current lockdown restrictions that will move from level five to level four.
“Currently level five is where the country is now. That’s where drastic measures are undertaken to contain the virus. When level four kicks in, some activity will be allowed to resume, but precautions will be taken.
“Level three will involve the easing of restrictions on work and social activities. Level two is further easing, but social distancing and discouraging gatherings will still be in force. While level one will further include easing, where more normal activity can resume,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said the Cabinet ministers would provide details on how industries were affected in each level in due course and industries would be able to make recommendations as well.
He commented: “We have decided on this approach as there is still much that is unknown about the rate and manner of the spread of the virus within our population.”
Ramaphosa said the following recommendations and the advice of scientists the government had to decide on the five-level approach as the spread of the virus within the country was concerning.
“It’s imperative to contain the virus and save lives and avoid a rushed re-opening to prevent another lockdown. Currently, the country is on level 5. The next level will be introduced next Friday, would ultimately see some activity being allowed to resume.
“Borders will remain closed, however, apart from repatriations. No travel will be allowed between provinces apart from goods and exceptional circumstances, like funerals,” he stated.
He emphasized stringent hygiene control – the use of all passengers wearing face masks following the resumption of public transport.
Earlier this week, President Ramaphosa announced an R500-billion rescue package to help the ailing economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
His stimulus plan includes funding to combat the pandemic, funding for municipalities for the provision of services, grants for relieving the plight of the poorest, funding for job creation, tax relief for distressed businesses, assistance for small businesses, and a loan guarantee scheme for qualifying businesses.
It’s reported that more than over 2.6 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide. South Africa’s COVID-19 cases surged to 3 953.
Ramaphosa said: “The coronavirus is a respiratory illness for which humans currently have no immunity and for which there is no known cure.”
Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa