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South Africa is moving to a level 4 lockdown – but what does level 3 look like?

South Africa will move to level 4 lockdown restrictions from 1 May 2020 as part of the country’s risk-based approach to dealing with the coronavirus.

According to minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the lockdown and its various new levels are not a tool used to eradicate the virus, but rather used to delay the peak of the virus.

So far, the measures put in place have successfully pushed back this peak, and ‘flattened the curve’ so as not to overburden South Africa’s healthcare system.

From here, the country will move to a 5-level alert system, which will determine which activities can be done and which industries can go back to work.

In dealing with the lockdown, the Health Department’s epidemiologists considered three scenarios, which included “nothing being done”. Under this scenario, the virus would have peaked in July. With a three-week lockdown, the virus would have peaked in August. With a five-week lockdown, the experts say the peak has been staved off until September.

“This lockdown stopped a huge movement of people and stopped an exponential rise [in cases].

“Because people were congregating, they were close to one another… in big meetings, sport gatherings, trains, taxis and so on. That would have actually made the outbreak rise pretty fast. In this case, we were able to delay it,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said the department is pleased with the development and is confident that its duration is sufficient to flatten the curve of infection.

“The [epidemiologists’] model shows that even if we made the lockdown longer, it would have not put down the curve further than what it is,” said Mkhize.

The lockdown, he said, is being eased based on scientific projections and calculations stating that a Level 5 lockdown would be of no further benefit.

Over the next 6-8 months, the country could move between lockdown levels at a moments notice based on the number of coronavirus infections seen throughout the country.

While government is expected to finalise what activities will be permitted under each level in the coming days, it is clear that there is much less of a jump moving from level 4 to level 3, compared to the much stricter level 5 lockdown.

In terms of the proposed lockdown policy published on Saturday (25 April), changes under level 3 will include the following:

More people allowed to return to work

The following workers will be allowed to return to work:

  • Automotive manufacturing, including components, scaling up in phases to 100% employment;

  • Stationery production, scaling up to 100% employment;

  • Cement and other construction material, scaling up to 100% employment;

  •  Steel and other metal manufacturing, scaling up in phases to 100% employment;

  • Clothing, textiles and footwear, scaling up in phases to 100% employment;

  • Other chemicals manufacturing, scaling up in phases to 100% employment;

  • All other manufacturing, scaling up in phases to 50% employment.

  • Commercial real estate permitted;

  • All mining scaling up towards 100% employment.;

  • Gardening and swimming pool services.

More items sold in stores

Retailers will be allowed to sell the following items (in addition to what is already being sold):

  • Hardware, components and supplies for sale to the general public;

  •  Stationery and all books;

  • All household appliances;

  • All clothing, home textiles and footwear;

  • Motor vehicles sales, subject to directions;

  • Off-premises consumption of alcohol, subject to limited hours.

  • Postal services and courier services (i.e. eCommerce) related to transport of retail goods will be permitted, subject to directions.

More freedoms

The following personal freedoms will be allowed:

  • Limited domestic air travel, with a restriction on the number of flights per day and authorisation based on the reason for travel and subject to the ports of entry arrangements;

  • Laundry and dry-cleaning services permitted;

  • Walking, jogging and cycling permitted.

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