South Africa is now in its seventh week of a national lockdown, with restrictions on personal movement and business operations.
While the lockdown gained widespread support when it was first implemented, opposition is now mounting against many of the restrictions.
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel told SAFM the government needs to ensure the rules during lockdown are rational.
“I think that a lot of the decisions that have been taken don’t pass the test of rationality. What you can and what you can’t buy doesn’t work,” he said.
Manuel added that the restrictions on exercise, which only allow people to jog or walk outside between 06:00 and 09:00, are not rational.
“We need voices to speak to the national command council and ask that rationality must be the order of the day,” he said.
DA Leader John Steenhuisen said the rules under level 4 lockdown are often petty, irrational, and authoritarian.
“It is little wonder then that these rules are increasingly met with resistance, and even outright civil disobedience,” said Steenhuisen.
As it stands, Steenhuisen said the lockdown is a tragic mistake that has already caused tremendous damage to the economy.
He urged the government to act now by ending the lockdown and getting as many people back to work as safely as possible.
“That is the only way we will ensure that, once we have defeated this virus, we have a country left to rebuild,” he said.
Moving between levels
The government has not given any indication on when the country will move to level 3 of the lockdown. It is, however, on the cards.
Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel said South Africa should be able to move to a level 3 lockdown “rapidly”, provided it avoids a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has also hinted at a possible lockdown downgrade from level 4 to level 3, during a media briefing on Monday.
Cele said the committee which oversees the alert level has been discussing the downgrade and was awaiting advice from experts.
Level 3 would enable things like limited air travel and the sale of alcohol, and open up more trade and manufacturing.
The economy will therefore not be completely open, but it will allow more people to return to work and earn a salary.
While many people are preparing for a further relaxation of rules in the coming months, the inverse is also on the cards.
Intellidex analyst Peter Attard Montalto said people should prepare for a roller-coaster of level changes for at least the next 12 months.
“Overall, there is still no clear strategy from the government on how and when the country or metros should be moved between levels,” he said.
“The national lockdown may be reduced to level 3 for a month or so, and then back to level 4, and then into level 5 for the peak through July and August,” he said.
Montalto said a reduction to level 3 could happen as early as this week, or more likely next week.
He warned that markets are likely to get overexcited about this and not realise that this position is simply not sustainable, given the health risks.
He said that South Africans should also prepare for a “metro-level system”, which is likely to be launched shortly.
Level 4 versus Level 3
With many people expecting a move to level 3, a summary of what will change when this happens is shown below.
It should be noted that the level 3 regulations have not been released. The expected rules, listed below, are based on a Draft Framework for Sectors document, released on 25 April by the government.
This document is subject to revision and the final regulations may include changes.
|Level 4 vs Level 3|
|Personal Movement and Exercise||Level 4||Level 3|
|Interprovincial travel||Not permitted||Not permitted|
|Stay at home||Yes||Yes|
|Meet friends or family||No||No|
|Exercise||Between 06:00 and 09:00||Allowed|
|Use of cloth masks||Mandatory||Mandatory|
|Curfew||Between 20:00 and 05:00||Between 20:00 and 05:00|
|Wholesale and retail trade||Level 4||Level 3|
|Toiletries and sanitising products||Allowed||Allowed|
|Baby and toddler products||Allowed||Allowed|
|Fuel and lighting||Allowed||Allowed|
|Stationery and educational books||Allowed||Allowed|
|Hot cooked food||Home delivery only||Uncertain|
|Components for vehicles||For emergency repairs||For emergency repairs|
|Clothing||Only winter and children’s clothing||Allowed|
|Tobacco products||Not allowed||Allowed|
|Alcohol||Not allowed||Allowed (limited hours)|
|Motor vehicles sales||Restricted||Allowed, subject to directions|
|Household appliances||Not allowed||Allowed|
|Information, communication and media services||Level 4||Level 3|
|Postal services and courier services||Allowed||Allowed|
|Accommodation and food||Level 4||Level 3|
|Accommodation||Not permitted||Not permitted|
|Restaurants||Delivery only (09:00 – 19:00)||Delivery only (09:00 – 20:00)|
|Transport||Level 4||Level 3|
|Air transport||Shipment of cargo only||Limited domestic air travel|
|Uber and Bolt||Allowed||Allowed|
|Construction and related services||Level 4||Level 3|
|Civil engineering for public works||Allowed||Allowed|
|Critical public works construction||Allowed||Allowed|
|Road and bridge projects||Allowed||Allowed|
|Public works civil engineering projects||Allowed||Allowed|
|Critical maintenance and repairs||Allowed||Allowed|
|Commercial building projects||Not allowed||Allowed|
|Manufacturing||Level 4||Level 3|
|Paper and paper products||Allowed||Allowed|
|Petroleum, smelters, refineries and furnaces||Allowed||Allowed|
|Winter clothing, bedding and heaters||50% employment||Allowed (100% employment)|
|Automotive||50% employment||Allowed (100% employment)|
|Stationery||50% employment||Allowed (100% employment)|
|Cement||50% employment||Allowed (100% employment)|
|Steel||20% employment||Allowed (100% employment)|
|Clothing||20% employment||Allowed (100% employment)|
|All other manufacturing||20% employment||50% employment|
|Private households employment||Level 4||Level 3|
|Domestic Workers||Not allowed||Allowed to support level 3 personnel|
|Gardening services||Not allowed||Allowed|
|Swimming pool services||Not allowed||Allowed|