President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that restrictions in place under level 3 of the national lockdown will be lifted to allow the reopening of more industries.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday 17 June, Ramaphosa said that following consultation with scientists and provincial governments, the cabinet has decided to ease restrictions on a number of economic activities.
The list of industries which will be allowed to return to operation includes:
- Restaurants for sit-down meals
- Accredited and licensed accommodation (with the exception of home-sharing such as Airbnb)
- Conferences and meetings for business purposes
- Cinemas and theatres
- Personal care services, including hairdressers and salons
- Non-contact sports such as tennis, golf, cricket, and others
- Contact sports for training and modified activities with restricted use of facilities
Ramaphosa noted that the above would be accommodated under the eased restrictions in line with the restrictions on public gatherings that remain in place.
The government will publish rules detailing the eased restrictions in the near future, he added.
Spread of COVID-19
Ramaphosa said that the doubling time of COVID-19 cases had decreased substantially due to the national lockdown.
Doubling time refers to the length of time it takes for the number of cases to double in value.
“In the three weeks prior to the nationwide lockdown, the number of infections was doubling every two days,” Ramaphosa said.
“During level 5, this doubling time increased to 15 days, which meant it took much longer for the virus to spread.”
“The doubling time has been at around 12 days during levels 4 and 3,” he added.
Ramaphosa noted that the spread of the disease was becoming a more tangible threat to South Africans.
“For many of us, what was once a distant disease is now coming much closer,” he said.
“as the country gradually opens up and we resume more activities, the risk of infection inevitably increases.”
Call for clarity
Ramaphosa’s briefing on 17 June was preceded by a statement from Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen, who urged the President to provide more clarity on the lockdown levels and permitted activities.
This follows after ministers alluded to altered regulations as part of an “advanced level 3 lockdown” which referred to sit-down restaurants and personal care businesses such as nail salons opening.
Steenhuisen said that the impression given by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is that they are as unaware as the rest of the country about a move to lower lockdown levels.
He said that clarity around the timing of lockdown level migration would assist businesses and citizens in planning for future operations and activities.
“Surviving in a pandemic is hard enough without the additional challenge of an uncertain, inconsistent and often incoherent policy environment,” Steenhuisen said.