President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown in South Africa starting from midnight on Thursday, 26 March to midnight on Thursday, 16 April.
In his address to the nation, Ramaphosa said without decisive action, the number of South Africans infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) “will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands.”
A nationwide lockdown is therefore necessary to “save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”
Lockdown: What it means
The lockdown will be enacted in terms of the National Disaster Act and will compel all South Africans, with certain exemptions, to stay at home for 21 days. This is aimed at breaking the coronavirus chain of transmission.
Individuals will not be permitted to leave their homes except under “strictly controlled circumstances.” These circumstances include buying food, medicine and other supplies or collecting social grants.
All shops and businesses will be closed except for certain exemptions. Homeless people will be placed in temporary shelters. Government will provide quarantine sites for those who are not able to self-quarantine at home.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be deployed to support the South African Police Service (SAPS) in enforcing the lockdown.
Individuals working in the following categories will be exempted: health workers in the public and private sectors; emergency personnel; and security services (police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers).
Other exemptions include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.
Exempted shops and businesses: pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.
Companies involved in the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will also be exempted.
“Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere,” Ramaphosa said.
The President added that a full list of exempted individuals, personnel and companies/businesses will be published in a few days.