President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that a countrywide lockdown will come into effect on Thursday. The 21-day lockdown is the latest government intervention to try and control the spread of the coronavirus.
South Africa will go into lockdown from midnight on Thursday, March 26 until April 16, the president announced on Thursday night.
The president said the lockdown was mandatory and had to be implemented to ensure that the spread of the Covid-19 virus is reduced and the curve is flattened.
It is issentail that every person in South Africa should adhere strictly and without exception to the regulations that already have been put in place and to the messures that I’m going to announce this evening. Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs that we need to argently and dramaticly ascallate our response.
The next few days are crucial, without decisive action the number of people infected will repidly increase from a few hundreds to tens of thousands and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands. This is extremely dengerous for a population like ours with has a large number of population with suppress immunity because of HIV and TB and high levels of poverty and malnutrition. We have learned a great deal from the experience of other countries, those countries that have act swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling spread of the desease.
As a consequence the national coronavirus commund council has decided to enforce a nationwide Lockdown for 21 days wuth effective from midnight on Thursday 26th of March. This is a decisive massure to save life of South Africans from infection and save the lifes of hundreds of thousands of our 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.
The nation-wide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following:
– From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home.
– The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.
It will also 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. A full list of essential personnel will be published.
– Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
– Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.
– All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.
Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open.
We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.
Companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces, underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations.
Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.
– Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.
The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society.
I have accordingly directed the South African National Defence Force be deployed to support the South African Police Service in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented.
This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.
Community health teams will focus on expanding screening and testing where people live, focusing first on high density and high-risk areas.
To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, a system will be put in place for ‘centralised patient management’ for severe cases and ‘decentralised primary care’ for mild cases.
Emergency water supplies – using water storage tanks, water tankers, boreholes and communal standpipes – are being provided to informal settlements and rural areas.
A number of additional measures will be implemented with immediate effect to strengthen prevention measures. Some of those measures are that:
– South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries will automatically be placed under quarantine for 14 days.
– Non-South Africans arriving on flights from high-risk countries we prohibited a week ago will be turned back.
– International flights to Lanseria Airport will be temporarily suspended.
– International travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9 March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine.
Fellow South Africans,
Our country finds itself confronted not only by a virus that has infected more than a quarter of a million people across the globe, but also by the prospects of a very deep economic recession that will cause businesses to close and many people to lose their jobs.