“It’s in your hands,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa, quoting the country’s democratic founding father, Nelson Mandela, as South Africa prepares to further ease the lockdown regulations to level 3 to allow increased economic activity from June 1.
“The risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than it has been since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in our country.
“Now is the time when we must intensify our efforts and deepen our co-operation.
“Now, we look once again to you, your actions, and your sense of responsibility. We look to you to uphold the sanctity of life and the dignity of all people. We look to you to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
“We look to you to demonstrate the solidarity and compassion that has characterised the response of the South African people to this crisis. At this time, more than any other, we are reminded of the words of Madiba, when he said: ‘It is now in your hands’,” said Ramaphosa in his address.
Under level 3, the country’s Covid-19 fight will be intensified in the metros, with Cape Town being Ramaphosa’s biggest headache.
The other metros identified as hot spots include Tshwane, Joburg, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, and Buffalo City.
The other areas are West Coast, Overberg, and Cape Winelands district municipalities in the Western Cape.
“We are particularly concerned about the situation in the City of Cape Town and in the Western Cape generally, which now has more than half the total infections in the country.
“We are attending to this as a matter of urgency. The list of hot-spot areas will be reviewed every two weeks depending on the progression of the virus,” said Ramphosa.
He said they were putting in place enhanced measures of surveillance, infection control, and management; and a full-time team of experienced personnel are to be assigned to each hot spot.
Ramaphosa stuck to his Cabinet’s guns on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco under level 3, saying they were still prohibited.
He said alcohol may be sold for home consumption only under strict conditions, on specified days, and for limited hours.
“Announcements in this regard will be made once we have concluded discussions with the sector on the various conditions.
“The sale of tobacco products will remain prohibited under alert level 3 due to the health risks associated with smoking,” the president said.
All gatherings will remain prohibited, except for funerals with no more than 50 people attending or meetings in the workplace for work purposes.”
Any place open to the public where cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational, exhibitions, organisational or similar activities may take place are to remain closed.
People will also be able to leave their homes to buy goods or obtain services, including medical care.
They will also be able to exercise at any time during the day, provided this is not done in groups. The curfew on people’s movement will be lifted.
Ramaphosa said restaurants, bars, and taverns will remain prohibited “to ensure that we maintain social distancing, except for delivery or collection of food”.
Accommodation and domestic air travel, except for business travel, is to be phased in on dates to be announced.
“We have held discussions with the tourism, hotel and restaurant industry regarding the challenges and hardships these sectors are experiencing,” the president said.
“They have made several proposals, regarding the measures they intend to put in place when their sectors are opened. We are giving consideration to the proposals.
“Even as we move to alert level 3, it is important that we should be aware that there are a few parts of the country where the disease is concentrated and where infections continue to rise.
“I want to emphasise that the easing of some restrictions does not mean that the threat posed by the coronavirus has passed or that our fight against the disease is over,” Ramaphosa said.