New lockdown rules surprise – Some rules are closer to level 1 than level 3
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will move from alert level 4 to alert level 3 of the national lockdown on 1 June.
As part of lowering the lockdown alert level, many restrictions will be relaxed and most of the economy will be opened up.
Under level 3 wholesale and retail trade will be fully opened, including stores, spaza shops, and informal traders. Alcohol will also be allowed to be sold at certain times.
The current 20:00-05:00 curfew will be lifted, and people will be allowed to exercise outside at any time of the day.
Accommodation and domestic air travel will be allowed for business under alert level 3, which will be phased in on dates to be announced.
Rules for restaurants will also change, and they will now be allowed to offer delivery, collection, and drive-through services.
There was one restriction which people expected to be lifted which will remain in force – the sale of tobacco products.
The sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related products will remain prohibited under level 3.
Last night Ramaphosa addressed the nation again, this time to announce that places of worship – including churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques – will be allowed to open.
This followed a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council which considered the inputs in recent consultations with interfaith leaders.
While the easing of restrictions was widely welcomed by most industries and citizens, it is a big departure from the initial alert level guidelines provided by the government.
When Ramaphosa unveiled the new 5-level alert system, it was accompanied by a Draft Framework for Sectors document which provided an overview of which services will be allowed at the five levels.
Many of the Ramaphosa’s latest announcements on the level 3 lockdown rules are a big departure from this framework.
In fact, some of the new rules are in line with what was expected at alert level 1 or 2 rather than alert level 3.
This is, however, not a bad thing. It is a result of consultations with different sectors who have highlighted the need to be opened up to prevent further damage to the economy and society as a whole.
So, while the new rules surprised many people by floating the guidelines from the draft framework for the risk-adjusted strategy, it is in response to requests from South Africans and industry players.
The table below provides an overview of the new rules announced by Ramaphosa, and when they were expected under the draft framework provided in April.