It is now up to South Africans to ensure that the country doesn’t move back to a Level 5 lockdown, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Saturday.
On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government would use a five-level phased approach towards easing lockdown restrictions. The country is currently on Level 5 – the most restrictive level – but this will be eased to Level 4 on 1 May.
On Saturday, Dlamini-Zuma unpacked what this meant.
“Level 4 means the lockdown is still in place,” she said.
She said if people did not stick to the restrictions and conditions, the “government will have no choice but to move very swiftly to Level 5”.
“It’s all in our hands, South Africans,” Dlamini-Zuma said. “It depends on what we do, whether we stick to what we are supposed to do, or not, so, we must make that choice.”
“It’s not the end of the lockdown, it’s the easing, it’s the risk-adjusted approach, it’s not just the lifting of the lockdown.”
The minister said this was for the “gears of industry to start grinding again”.
She said while the whole country was moving to Level 4, there might come a time when the government will differentiate, putting areas with higher infection rates at a higher level of lockdown.
The main difference between Level 5 and Level 4 is that the latter allows slightly more economic activity, meaning more people will work.
There are also strict regulations for work places.
Dlamini-Zuma said people who work must go straight home after work. Social gatherings, except funerals, will still be banned and it will be mandatory for people to cover their mouths and noses.
Some exercise, but no organised sport, will be allowed under strict regulations, which will be published later.
“If we do all the things we’re supposed to do, we’ll remain on Level 4 and eventually move to Level 3,” Dlamini Zuma said.
“We have to make some sacrifices. It’s not punishment, it’s sacrifices that we must make for our country, for our economy, for our fellow citizens.”