A look back at SA’s lockdown alert levels ahead of President Ramaphosa’s national address

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation at 19h00 this evening on the developments in South Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The address comes after a meeting with the President’s Co-ordinating Council on Tuesday.

The meeting, which Ramaphosa co-chaired with Deputy President David Mabuza saw ministers, premiers, and members of the South African Local Government Association discuss a report from the National Coronavirus Command Council on South Africa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is widely expected to announce South Africa’s move to Alert Level 1 of the lockdown.

South Africa has been on lockdown since March 26 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Under Alert Level 1, most normal activity will resume with safety precautions still adhered to. People will still be expected to observe social distancing, wear their masks and sanitise as advised by the Department of Health.

Below are Alert Level one lockdown restrictions:

Experts support the anticipated move to Level 1

Wits University Vaccinology’s Professor Shabir Madhi says while there is no reason why South Africa should not move to Alert Level 1 since the country is on a downward trajectory in terms of the outbreak, the move would not mean the country is out of danger.

Experts have also emphasised that it is important for South Africans to continue adhering to health and safety regulations.

“Moving to level one does not mean that we should start allowing mass gatherings because those are exactly the types of things that would allow for the resurgence of the virus in South Africa.”

The video below talks about continuing with health and safety regulations:


President Cyril Ramaphosa also met with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to discuss the national economic recovery plan. The plan focuses on confidence-building and placing South Africa on a path to economic growth. Nedlac agrees on SA’s recovery plan:

South Africa’s economy took a knock in the second quarter shrinking by 51% quarter on quarter. Statistics South Africa attributed the negative growth to the lockdown.

Nearly all industries experienced a massive drop in output in the second quarter with the construction industry hardest hit, slumping further by 76.6%.

Manufacturing output also shrank by 74.9% due to work stoppages and low demand for steel. However, under Level 1 both industries will be fully functional.

The National State of Disaster that the President declared in March due to the pandemic has been extended to October 15.

SA under lockdown

South Africa has been under lockdown for hundred and seventy- four days. In March, President Cyril announced the 21 days lockdown to curb the spread of the virus from 26 March to 30 April 2020. The country came to a standstill with most economic activities brought to a halt. Academic activities were affected with contact lectures cancelled and schools closed.

Only individuals providing essential services were allowed to leave their homes for work. The essential personnel including, among others, health practitioners, people working in retail, media, and law enforcement needed permits to go to work. Businesses that provided essential services, same with the essential personnel, needed permits.

The government deployed members of the South African Defence Force to assist in ensuring regulations were adhered to.

“You are called upon to go out and support our police, work with them, walk amongst our people, and defend them against this virus. You are required to do so in the most understanding way,” said Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa addresses SANDF members ahead of lockdown:

However, incidents of alleged misconduct by SANDF members soon surfaced. SANDF accused of killing a man in Alexandria:

Below are Alert Level five lockdown restrictions:

Level 4 lockdown

The country moved to Alert Level 4 on 1 May which saw the easing of regulations. “We have decided on this approach because there is still much that is unknown about the rate and manner of the spread of the virus within our population. The action we take now must, therefore, be measured and incremental,” said Ramaphosa.

Millions of South Africans were allowed to go back to work under strict regulations:

A curfew from 8pm to 5 am was introduced and wearing of masks became compulsory. During this period there was limited public transport. Road-based public services were permitted to operate services from 5h00 to 19h00 with a grace period of one hour in the afternoon to complete their trips. The loading capacity remained at 70 % and the taxi industry was feeling the impact of the regulations.
No public transport was allowed on the road between 20h00 and 5h00. Restaurants and fast-food chains were allowed to produce food for delivery.

Level 3 lockdown

In May, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will from 1 June move to Alert Level-3. “This will result in the opening up of the economy and the removal of a number of restrictions on the movement of people, while significantly expanding and intensifying our public health interventions,” he said.

All economic sectors were permitted to operate, except for high-risk activities that remained restricted. Churches were reopened with no more than 50 congregants.

President Ramaphosa warned that churches which do not adhere to regulations would be shutdown:

It was during this time that the taxi industry went head to head with the Department of Transport calling for the industry to be fully operational.

The South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) threatened to shut down the industry if it was not allowed to operate fully. The association said that owners were struggling to keep up with paying bank loans as a result of the restrictions.

The back and forth between the taxi industry and the Department of Transport:

This was despite the government’s R1.5 billion relief fund to the industry. Following engagements with the industry, the government announced that the industry would be allowed to be fully functional.

Below are the Alert Level 3 regulations:

Level 2 lockdown

South Africa moved to Alert Level 2 on 17 August. The sale of alcohol and tobacco products was unbanned. The ban on alcohol and tobacco products throughout the lockdown created tension between government and industry players.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association took the battle to court arguing that cigarettes should be regarded as essential products since tobacco is addictive:

Regarding alcohol, while industry was concerned about possible job losses posed by the ban, government was concerned that alcohol consumption related incidents would overwhelm health facilities. Government was also concerned about the rising numbers of gender-based violence incidences related to alcohol consumption:

Level two saw a further lifting of restrictions to allow for more economic activity.

Below are Alert Level 2 restrictions: