While some will now breathe a sigh of relief that their lives will slowly return to normalcy, the road ahead is still steeped with sacrifices and curfews that need to be obeyed.
The country may be moving to less harsh lockdown restrictions, but government says this is no call for a free reign for all and still expects people to stay at home.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, it emerged that people will from Friday be permitted a once-off movement from one province to another.
From May 1, as the country kicks off level 4 COVID-19 lockdown regulations, 1.5 million workers will return to work posts as will fitness junkies, who will resume training regimens, albeit under strict conditions.
The regulations, which were gazetted on Wednesday by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will also see citizens now able to place orders to be delivered from their favourite restaurants. You can now also buy your cosmetic products to pamper yourself and do your own manicure and pedicure at home.
Dlamini-Zuma revealed all the developments during a ministerial briefing on the regulations relating to level 4 restrictions.
READ: A neat explanation of what Level 4 restrictions entail for South Africans, compiled by Mandy Wiener.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the gradual relaxing of regulation was an effort to resuscitate the country’s economy that was negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Dlamini-Zuma emphasised that this was not by any means the lifting of the lockdown, but adoption of the risk-adjusted approach to allow the economy to function.
Sale of cigarettes and alcohol prohibited
The sale of cigarettes and alcohol, however, remains prohibited.
“We debated the matter and looked at it and decided we must continue as we are when it comes to cigarettes and tobacco products and we decided not to open the sale,” she explained.
She said the reasons are health-related and also how tobacco is shared amongst people which encourages the spread of the virus.
Any form of liquor is also not permitted to be distributed.
“The non-sale of alcohol has freed the hospitals; our emergency hospitals and units are normal now. Our ICUs are not filled with people who have been stabbed or shot or raped or so on.”
She said this stance is assisting in fighting COVID-19.
“Besides that, alcohol attracts crowds. Very few people enjoy drinking alone. Besides that, it means that the police can do what they need to do and all the enforcement officers. The hospital can look after the sick and not the emergencies that comes from effects of alcohol,” she explained.
The government also thanked the public for comments that were received – over 70 000 submissions that they considered and about 800 from the business sector.
“The most popular submission was on exercise, over 22 000 people wanted [to] exercise,” she said.
“You can leave to go exercise under strict conditions,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
Under the new regulation, people can cycle, run and walk within their neighbourhood of about a 5 km radius between 6 am and 9 am.
Movement of people
Under level 4, children who had visited relatives before the lockdown would be permitted to move back home.
Dlamini-Zuma said more people would be going to work under level 4, however, she stressed that people should stay at home after knocking off.
“It’s not a licence to visit your relatives or friends. So, between 8pm and 5am, if you’re not having a permit to be out, you have to be at home,” she added.
Those who work in Gauteng but live in neighbouring provinces like North West, Mpumalanga or Limpopo will be permitted to travel daily but should be in possession of a permit.
However, movements between provinces will not be allowed.
“They’re on a different level of the infection, others have higher rates of infections and we don’t want those at a higher rate of infection to keep moving to those at a moderate rate of infection.”
The regulations on funerals have not changed and close relatives still need a death certificate and permission from the police station or Magistrate to attend.
The borders – sea borders, air and land ports of entry – are still closed except for goods that are arriving or leaving the country.
The movement of people across borders is only allowed under exceptional circumstance for instance, if you are a South African stuck in another country.
“When they return, they must be quarantined for 14 days before they go to their families, homes or work because some will be coming from very high-risk countries where the infection is higher than it is here.”
Recreation movement is still not allowed.
The government said evictions from people’s residences are still not permitted.
Because more people will be going back to work – rail and busses and other forms of transport will now be operated under strict guidelines.
Transportation of cargo and all agricultural products, such as wine and wool, among others, will open for exportation.
People are still barred from going to beaches, flea-markets, night clubs and parks. Hairdressers’ doors will still be closed under level 4 because of the risk, despite a lot of people asking for it.
However, you can still go out and buy winter clothes, heaters and bedding to keep warm to curb the flu outbreak as winter approaches.
Work places must be COVID-19 ready
“We’re still encouraging people who can work at home to work at home.”
For those who will be returning to work, Dlamini-Zuma urged industries to prepare their workplaces.
She said no company should undermine sanitation, Personal Protective Equipment, using masks and social distancing.
“It’s important because if you’re not COVID-19 ready, the people come, you don’t screen them, you don’t adhere to protocol, sooner or later they’ll be a spread and that company will be forced to close,” she warned.
Therefore, telecom services and infrastructure and information and communication technology companies, are allowed to operate and service private homes as well.
Hotels and guesthouses will remain closed unless they are used for quarantine or essential services.
She said those who do not adhere to the COVID-19 regulations will be fined.