Life in South Africa will gradually begin to return to normal from next month, with government steadily easing the COVID-19 lockdown regulations, albeit under stringent stipulations.

From 1 May, government will implement a risk-adjusted strategy aimed at easing the current lockdown restrictions.

The decision was taken during a National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting on Thursday, April 23.

During this period, he said, the country’s lockdown would be eased over five alert levels.

“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.”

This approach, the President said, is guided by the advice from scientists who have advised that an abrupt lifting of restrictions could cause a resurgence in infections.

He emphasised that government could not afford to take action that would be later regretted.

The President said: “We must avoid a rushed re-opening that could risk a spread, which would need to be followed by another hard lockdown, as has happened in other countries.

“We have to balance the need to resume economic activity with the imperative to contain the virus and save lives”.

Levels of lockdown regulations

Level 5, on which the country is currently under, means that drastic measures are required to contain the spread of the virus to save lives.

Level 4, will see relative activity allowed to resume, subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks.

Level 3, involves the easing of some restrictions, including on work and social activities, to address a high risk of transmission.

Level 2, involves the further easing of restrictions, but the maintenance of physical distancing and restrictions on some leisure and social activities to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

Level 1, means that most normal activity can resume, with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times.

Upcoming Level 4 unpacked

Level 4 will see borders remain closed to international travel, except for the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens.

However, no travel will be allowed between provinces, except for the transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals.

During this period, public transport will continue to operate, with limitations on the number of passengers and stringent hygiene requirements, including that all passengers must wear a face mask.

President Ramaphosa emphasised that during this period, the public is encouraged to stay at home, other than for essential personal movement, doing essential work and work in sectors that are under controlled opening.

The range of goods that may be sold will be extended to incorporate certain additional categories.

Restrictions will remain in place in certain sectors regardless of the level of alert for as long as the risk of transmission is present.

These include bars and shebeens, conference and convention centres, entertainment venues, cinemas, theatres, and concerts.

Concerts, sporting events, and religious, cultural and social gatherings will not be allowed until it is deemed safe for them to continue.

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