The country will be going through a 21-day official lockdown effective from the 26th March 2020 to the 16th April 2020. This is as result of the widespread coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued the world. South Africa has experienced large scale increase in the number of confirmed cases since President Cyril Ramaphosa announcement the State of Disaster nine days ago. This has seen numbers increase from 61 cases to 554 confirmed positive cases.
On the 15 March 2020 the President declared a state of disaster under the Disaster Management Act (Act no. 22 of 2002). Under this Act President Ramaphosa has implement a disaster management plan, that has allowed him to enact regulations that will help minimise the spread of this virus.
According to the president, “Since the National State of Disaster was declared, we have put in place a range of regulations and directives.”
“These regulations have restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions, and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6pm,” said President Ramaphosa.
He further reiterated this by saying, “We must therefore do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infections over a longer period, what is known as flattening the curve of infections.”
President Ramaphosa also said that, slow action by the government will prove catastrophic. “This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours with a high number of people with supressed immunity, because of HIV, TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.”
The president also highlighted that they have drawn from the experiences of other countries who have acted swiftly in putting preventive measures to combat this virus. This decision will help counter a scenario where infections become so much that the resources at the country’s disposal are not enough cater for all those in need
Last night the president announced that South Africa will be locked down for a period of three weeks under the powers bestowed to the National Coronavirus Command Council under the National Disaster Management Act, with only essential services and personnel given the freedom of movement and operation.
“This is a decisive measure to save lives of South Africans from the infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of our people,” said the President.
Other citizens and individuals not mentioned under this Act will be forced to stay at home for the duration of the lockdown, with an exception that the particular individual, is going to the supermarket for food, hygiene and cleaning supplies, consultation for medical care, and those going to collect social grant.
Essential services afforded this leeway are those involved in the distribution, supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunication services, laboratory services and the provision of medical and hygiene services. Transport and logistical systems that are tasked with delivering the essential items mentioned above will also be exempted.
Spaza shops have also been included in the comprehensive list of exempted food supply sector. The spaza shops must be South African owned, according to Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, “This is to ensure quality of the product.”
Personnel are health workers in the public and private sector, emergency personnel, those in security services including the police, medical military personnel, soldiers and other persons necessary or tasked with responding to the pandemic.
Homeless people will be afforded temporal shelters that meets hygiene standards. Sites are also being identified for those that will require to be quarantined because they are unable to self-quarantine at home.
People are urged to stay at home during this lockdown failure to do so might lead to incrimination and other penalties provided for under the new Disaster Management regulations.