Monday, 23 March 2020

Pretoria: In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, The National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a 21-day nation-wide lockdown with effect from midnight on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday.

In a televised address to the nation, the President announced that the lockdown is necessary in order to save lives in light of the Coronavirus.

Some of the lockdown measures during the lockdown are as follows:

  • Individuals will only be allowed to leave the house to buy food, medical supplies or collect a social grant;
  • Provisions will be made for the homeless, and government continue to identify quarantine sites for these people;
  • Only pharmacies, banks, laboratories, payment services (petrol services and healthcare providers) will remain open;
  • Those businesses responsible for the production and sale of food will remain open too; and
  • All South Africans must remain in their homes for 21 days, starting from midnight Thursday 26 March until midnight 16 April 2020.

President Ramaphosa promised that provision would be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.

”Companies with continuous operations, such as furnaces and underground mines, will be expected to put their operations on care and maintenance,” said the President.

A similar list of people will be exempted from travel restrictions that will also be in place. People who will be allowed to travel, President  Ramaphosa said, include:

  • health workers, in both the public and private sectors;
  • emergency workers;
  • security services, including police, soldiers, traffic officers;
  • those in the production, supply and distribution of food and other basic goods;
  • those in essential banking systems; and
  • people who maintain water, electricity, and similar systems.

Other South Africans will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, President Ramaphosa said.

The SA Revenue Service will work towards paying employment tax incentives more frequently, while the Industrial Development Corporation has put a package of more than R3bn together for industrial funding to assist vulnerable firms. The department of tourism has made an additional R200m available to help that industry, which is reeling during this crisis.

President Ramaphosa also announced a solidarity fund to which all businesses and private individuals can donate. The fund will account fully for every cent donated, and will complement what government is doing in the public sector.

Old-age and pension grants will be paid on March 30 and 31, and other grants on April 01. Most banks are to put measures in place in this regard in the next few days, the President said. He also called on large businesses in particular to take care of their workers during this period.

“We will be spending money to save lives and support the economy. This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,”

”While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.”said President Ramaphosa.

To ensure that measure announced are implemented, President Ramaphosa also announced the deployment of the South African National Defence Force SANDF) to support the South African Police Service.

This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.