Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu says the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) media briefing on level 3 regulations will take place on Thursday.
Mthembu has moved to clarify that the second postponement of the regulations briefing was this time necessitated by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Tuesday night that places of worship would be allowed to re-open under level 3 of the national lockdown.
Ramaphosa said the NCCC had heard the calls of religious leaders and agreed that religious institutions could open under restrictions. These restrictions include proper hygiene measures being followed, congregants wearing masks and social distancing being followed.
The country will go into level 3 of the risk-adjusted national lockdown on June 1.
Mthembu said because of the president’s address, a delay in announcing the regulations was needed to include the re-opening of places of worship.
“We confirm that the media briefing for alert level 3 regulations will be tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. All clusters will then also brief the nation on our preparedness for alert level 3 in the next coming days.
“As the president explained yesterday (on Tuesday), the religious sector will be among those opening under alert level 3. This, therefore, necessitates that the regulations make provision for that, hence the delay. We sincerely apologize for the delay,” Mthembu said.
The government’s decision on the religious sector has received mixed reactions with complaints that places of worship were also breeding ground for the spreading of the coronavirus.
Questions have also been raised on how the government will police the adherence to guidelines when usual church services tend to attract hundreds of congregants.
Other sectors, including the restaurant sector, have also cried foul, questioning why they were not being allowed to open while religious institutions were being allowed to do so.
Ramaphosa said May 31 would be a national day of prayer as the country prepares to move to level 3.