What to expect from level 3 lockdown rules
South Africa recently ended a strict five-week lockdown after the country moved to level 4 under the new 5-level COVID-19 alert system.
While the country is still under national lockdown, a few of the most stringent rules were lifted.
Certain people may return to work and jogging, cycling, and walking is now allowed between 06:00 and 09:00.
Retail stores are also allowed to sell more items. A few noteworthy additions to the list are winter clothing, ICT equipment, and hardware goods.
The new regulations were welcomed, but many people and businesses feel more needs to be done.
The ban on alcohol and cigarette sales has been criticized for encouraging their illicit trade and for costing the country a lot of money in lost tax revenue.
Another contentious area is ecommerce. Most countries allow unfettered ecommerce during their COVID-19 lockdowns, because of the contactless nature of the industry.
This is not the case in South Africa. Online shops are only allowed to sell the products which brick-and-mortar shops are allowed to sell.
The reason for this decision, which many people feel is ill-advised and counter-productive, is “fairness” towards physical shops.
Many people are also lobbying the government to increase the time allowed to exercise outside, to ease congestion and allow people to jog or walk outside after work.
Need to open the economy
The national lockdown has wreaked havoc on the economy. Early estimates are that South Africa’s GPD is expected to contract by between 6% and 15%.
Many businesses will close, and the National Treasury predicts that between 3-7 million jobs will be lost.
This could drive the unemployment rate in the country to above 50% and lead to a volatile situation in poorer communities.
Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka has said South Africa’s economy is already over the brink and people should be allowed to go back to work to make a living.
She warned that South Africa is heading for a humanitarian crisis, with people running out of food and money.
She said thousands of people are already queuing for 15 hours to get food parcels – something which has never happened in South Africa before.
She said the risk posed by the struggling economy is now higher than the risk posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Unless urgent steps are taken to unlock this economy, COVID-19 will be the least of our problems,” she said.
Moving to level 3
Many politicians have hinted that the government is looking to move to level 3 as soon as possible to allow more economic activity.
While the government is yet to make regulations which will stipulate exactly what will be allowed under level 3, it has provided guidelines.
Its Draft Framework for Sectors document, released on 25 April, provides an overview of which services will be allowed at the five levels.
It should be noted that this document is subject to revision and the final regulations may include changes.
The tables below provide a summary of the Draft Framework provided by the government.