How South Africa may gauge easing its lockdown to fight virus

Alert levels will be determined by the National Command Council.
Armed soldiers from the SANDF patrol a taxi rank and adjacent shopping centre in Rustenburg. Image: Bloomberg

A lockdown imposed by South African authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus is due to expire at the end of April, but restrictions on factory production, alcohol sales, air travel and some other activities could be retained for some time to come.

The government is considering using a system of alert levels to assess whether to gradually ease restrictions after the lockdown ends, according to a presentation made to the ruling party’s National Working Committee on Monday, said a person who attended the meeting and asked not to be named.

Alert levels will be determined by the National Command Council, which will follow recommendations from the ministers of health and trade and industry and be based on how quickly the virus is spreading and the health system’s readiness to handle cases, the presentation shows. Levels may be determined nationally or provincially.

Domestic air travel will only be restored once there’s “moderate virus spread, with high readiness” and movement between provinces should be limited, according to the document, which was seen by Bloomberg News.

It proposes retaining restrictions on restaurants, hotels, bars, conference centres, entertainment venues, sporting events and religious and social gatherings after the lockdown, regardless of the alert level. No gatherings of more than 10 people outside of a workplace will be permitted.

The lockdown, which has halted most economic activity, began March 27. President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to address the nation on Thursday on measures begin re-opening the economy.

Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking to confirm the content of the presentation.

Here’s how the alert system could work:

© 2020 Bloomberg

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It will be a shambles.

You cant have the “National Command Council” determine levels. There are 5 levels.

These are people with very VERY limited abilities. Some ministers don’t even understand the most basic and primitive regulations of their own portfolio’s. All they are out to do is make life difficult for people.

They have no clue about rescuing this economy and will do more damage than good.

I mean you have 5 levels?? They wont even be able to agree on one. These are @#$%^&* politicians man.

Get specialists including economists and doctors to decide.

National Command Counsil I ask you??????

Agreed; just look at the micro shambles coming out of the stupid ban on cooked food. Like Clinton, SA makes Trump look like a genius.

SA will be in hard to medium lockdown (on/off) for the next year since the spread of the virus will be inevitable. Health system readiness? no I cant see that happening, government hospitals were in shambles before pandemic. All air travel companies, restaurants and hotels will go bankrupt. A lot of capital and jobs will be permanently destroyed. SA will not recover after this. Tax revenue will not be enough to cover the ever growing social costs. SA is well its way to Zimbabwe status, self induced destruction. Sweden has no lockdown and coping well.

What will happen in addition is the “Command Council” does not realize that many people actually don’t want to go out. The longer the lockdown lasts the more profound this will be.

I often used to fly Durban JHB. Will I do it again? Never in my life. If urgent I will drive. No rush.

I have a tough time trying to decide about my domestic workers. From what I have seen on TV I will be very reluctant to just continue as before. I think it will put my family at undue risk and we makedo as is? A bit of a saving too and nice to see the Government will look after them.

Will I go to a restaurant or pub again. Maybe but it will have to be a very special occasion. Another nice saving.

Would I go to the bottle store? Yes and I will and panic buy and stockpile to the roof. Then I only have to go once in a month or two maybe even three.

Mall? No

Supermarket. Yes. And panic buying is the order of the day. I stockpile to the rafters. Then go before the end of the month quickly to avoid “Traffic”

Nice saving on fuel too.

The “Command Council” might have to start thinking about how to get some people back into the streets.

Will spending patterns change? Mine has already. Big time.

End of comments.

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