Health Minister, Joe Phaahla, says they are looking at the gradual relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown regulations. He says they are consulting with scientists on how this should be done as there is a possibility of another wave of the coronavirus.
Phaahla says even as the country prepares to pull out of the National State of Disaster, some coronavirus safety protocols need to be kept as they have proved to help to stop the spread of other viruses such as the flu.
“Many other countries have gone that route of gradualism, but the fact that we need to get moving that’s definitely the case. I mean we can’t keep on for much longer without any football, rugby, music festivals and so on, but a gradual kind of relaxation with more activity is on the cards. So, we just need to find the mechanism.”
National State of Disaster extended for the last time
The National State of Disaster has been extended for the last time until 15 March 2022. This follows a virtual Cabinet meeting that was held where the extension of the State of Disaster was one of the issues under discussion.
Cabinet says the extension was granted after engagements were held through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS). It says some of the key departments dealing with COVID-19 still have to conclude their analysis.
Cabinet says it has, therefore, approved the final extension of the National State of Disaster to 15 March next month.
“Cabinet was apprised on the work that has been undertaken through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure to determine the extent to which the management of the COVID-19 pandemic still required the existence of the National State of Disaster. Inputs were received from various government departments to determine their respective areas of work that are at an advanced stage of completion. However, after noting that some of the key departments dealing with COVID-19 had not yet concluded their analysis, Cabinet approved the final extension of the National State of Disaster to 15 March 2022, in terms of Section 27(5)(c) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act 57 of 2002),” says the Cabinet statement.
More calls for an end to the National State of Disaster in SA
Small businesses welcome news State of Disaster will end soon
Small businesses in the Free State say they are relieved that the National State of Disaster will soon be a thing of the past. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many businesses.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation Address last week that the end of the National State of Disaster would be announced after regulations were finalised.
Some Bloemfontein-based business people say life has not been easy since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“Actually, it was very difficult because we went through a lot. Some of our customers they left, went home; some, they lost their jobs. So, it was very difficult in the period of pandemic,” says business person.
“I feel so happy because things are going to be back to normal because we lost. Many of our clients are not coming to cut because they are afraid of this sickness. So they are not coming here to the salon because of sickness we have right now,” says one hairdresser.
Ramaphosa first announced the National State of Disaster in March 2020
The declaration of a State of Disaster paved way for the country to go into lockdown – 11 days later. South Africa was placed under hard lockdown on Alert Level 5. The country remains under lockdown through the declaration of a State of Disaster, but on Alert Level 1.
The lockdown will end when the State of Disaster is expected to end next month.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has signed the last month-to-month extension which has been gazetted.
It is the 21st month-to-month extension, which will officially kick in on Tuesday 15 February. The extension is granted in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
The Act empowers the minister to extend a State of Disaster on a month-to-month basis once the first three months have expired. The first month-to-month extension was granted in mid-June 2020. 15 March 2022 is expected to mark the end of the month-to-month extension and the end of managing the coronavirus through the declaration of a National State of Disaster.