President Cyril Ramaphosa says churches found violating the lockdown regulations under the alert Level-3 will be closed down. All places of worship will be allowed to operate from 1 June.

Each gathering should consist of no more than 50 people and churches must adhere to other COVID-19 regulations, such as ensuring social distancing and sanitisation of congregants.

”I am not as fearful as many of you are because I think this will be well managed. Many people have said trust the people of SA and leaders have said trust us so we are putting our trust in the people of SA and of course where we see that that trust is misplaced , government will act. For instance that some congregation goes beyond the numbers we have agreed,  we will act and we will close those places like other people wanted to open their taverns,  we have closed them.”

The President made the remarks during an exclusive interview with SABC News at his Hyde Park home, in Johannesburg, earlier on Thursday.

Hospitality industry 

The President revealed that government is having discussions with owners of hotels and restaurants as they also want permission to operate.

The hospitality industry is crying foul after it has been under stringent laws since the national lockdown began in South Africa.

Hotels and restaurants have lost millions in revenue and thousands of jobs have been lost.

”The restaurateurs have only come to us just recently and we are giving considerations to their views. We met with them, so we are listening to all that. So the way we are managing the COVID-19 is that we are listening to all,  we don’t want to impose our view. So, careful management is what underpins everything that we are doing,” the President says.

Scientists and politicians 

President Ramaphosa dismissed claims of tensions between scientists and politicians on how to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The perceptions follow Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s hard-hitting statement, setting the record on assertions made by Chief Executive of the South African Medical Research Council Professor Glenda Gray. Gray had accused government of not following the COVID-19 Ministerial Committee’s advice.

”Scientists like politicians, they differ and they have diverse views and diverse views are to be welcomed. We have said the Medical Advisory Committee has been advising government extremely well and we welcome everybody’s input in the committee, including the ructions that we had that has now been solved, they are now united and we take our cue from scientists because they are experts.”

As the country slowly returns to normalcy, almost eight million people will be returning to work next week. Schools will also open for the first time since 18 March, but only grade 7 and 12s will be heading to classes for now.

President Ramaphosa maintains that his administration is now in a better place to flatten the curve than what it was when the lockdown was imposed two months ago. This amid the daily rise in the number of infections and COVID-19 related deaths.

Below is SABC News’ exclusive interview with the President: 

Level- 3 regulations