Bad news about lockdown in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa is unlikely to move South Africa away from level 4 lockdown as the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa remains high.

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will meet today to assess developments in the Covid-19 pandemic and the national response to this challenge.

The NCCC meeting will be followed by meetings of the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet.

These meetings come two weeks after Ramaphosa moved the country to Alert Level 4 to curb the spread of the virus.

The new level 4 lockdown regulations include a curfew between 21:00 to 04:00, a ban on alcohol sales, restrictions on gatherings, and closing schools by bringing holidays forward.

Leisure travel into and out of Gauteng, which is experiencing a devastating third wave, is also banned as a measure to limit the movement of the virus.

South Africa’s alcohol industry has warned that an extension of the alcohol ban will lead to the permanent loss of thousands of jobs, while the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has cautioned against extending the current lockdown rules, which it said will decimate the industry.

SA Medical Association vice-chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa told the City Press that the organisation also believes the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption should now be allowed for the sake of the economy.

However, people looking for Ramaphosa to lift the current lockdown restrictions may be disappointed.

Citing well-placed sources, the City Press reported that the current level 4 lockdown regulations and the bulk of the stricter regulations are likely to be extended for another two weeks.

The Sunday Times also reported that the level 4 lockdown is likely to be extended, and that a relaxation of the alcohol ban is not believed to be on the cards.

Many experts, including Professor Alex van den Heever from the Wits School of Governance, shares this view.

Van den Heever said infections in most provinces remain high, and he expects Ramaphosa to announce an extension of the current lockdown rules.

Stellenbosch University chief economist Hugo Pienaar also predicted an extension as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in some provinces.

“Irrespective of the dire impact on the hospitality, liquor, and aviation sectors, the state of the pandemic will make it very hard to relax the regulations,” he said.

A source told SowetanLIVE, “all indications are that the status quo will remain, with room for additional restrictions as Covid-19 infection numbers are still escalating”.

While the lockdown rules are likely to be extended, schools are still set to open as initially planned.

Rapport reported that the Department of Basic Education recommended that schools reopen on 19 July after the holiday.

Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said they have received advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee that schools should still open on 19 July.

Covid-19 cases in South Africa

The charts below, courtesy of Media Hack, show the daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa and the daily case trend per province.

Covid-19 cases

Now read: New Level 4 lockdown rules — what you can and can’t do

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Bad news about lockdown in South Africa