Lockdown rules – Level 4 versus Level 3

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
Recreational travel No No
Meet friends or family No No
Exercise Between 06:00 and 09:00 Allowed
Use of cloth masks Mandatory Mandatory
Public gatherings Prohibited Prohibited
Curfew Between 20:00 and 05:00 Between 20:00 and 05:00
Wholesale and retail trade Level 4 Level 3
Food Allowed Allowed
ICT equipment Allowed Allowed
Toiletries and sanitising products Allowed Allowed
Baby and toddler products Allowed Allowed
Fuel and lighting Allowed Allowed
Hardware 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
Telecommunication services Allowed Allowed
ICT services Allowed Allowed
Postal services and courier services Allowed Allowed
Media 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
Public rail Allowed Allowed
Minibus taxi Allowed Allowed
Bus services Allowed Allowed
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
Packaging 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
Live-in staff Allowed Allowed
Domestic Workers Not allowed Allowed to support level 3 personnel
Gardening services Not allowed Allowed
Swimming pool services Not allowed Allowed

Now read: What to expect from level 3 lockdown rules

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Lockdown rules – Level 4 versus Level 3