Lockdown Level 3: Five things Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will have to clarify
A move to Level 3 of lockdown is set to take place this month. Well, for most of us anyway: Here's what Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be asked to explain.
We’ve had the president’s speech, but in reality, Ramaphosa’s announcements almost play second fiddle to what Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the National Command Council have to say. Cyril tells us when things will change, whereas the NCC inform us how they will change. We can expect the same formula for the impending announcements on lockdown Level 3.
On Wednesday, our head of state confirmed that plans are in place for South Africa to move into the next stage of lockdown by the end of May. But there’s a catch: Areas with high rates of COVID-19 infections are likely to be kept at Level 4 until their numbers improve.
It’ll be a pain for some, but we understand that the majority of Mzansi can look forward to life in Level 3 before the month has finished. This means that a briefing from Dlamini-Zuma and her team is imminent, but she has an almighty task ahead of her. We’ve identified the key areas the minister must tackle at the next NCC presser.
What Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will have to clarify about Level 3 of lockdown
How will the alcohol laws work?
According to the government’s own coronavirus website, alcohol sales are made legal again at Level 3. The official advice is for liquor stores to open from 8:00 – 12:00, from Monday to Wednesday, with strict product limits in place. But we’re yet to hear a minister confirm that this will be the case.
Furthermore, you risk creating an enormous illegal racket if some regions of South Africa can buy booze in Level 3, and others stuck in Level 4 can’t. During the next NCC briefing, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma must inform South Africans how alcohol sales will work going forward – and if those under Level 4 regulations will be given any exemptions or ‘windows’ to go and buy liquor.
When can we smoke again, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma?
On very similar territory to alcohol, cigarettes have been touted in for a return to shelves at Level 3 of lockdown. Again, the disparity in lockdown stages between regions creates conflict. But with ciggies, there’s the added complication of legal action looming over the government.
Areas like Cape Town and Johannesburg, home to millions of South Africans and serving as the business hubs of the country, could be kept at Level 4 due to their large coronavirus transmission numbers. But the tobacco industry, currently fighting for the right to market their products again, could raise complaints about being shut off from the two biggest metropolitan areas of Mzansi.
Dlamini-Zuma needs to establish if there will be “one rule for all” with cigarettes, or if they will only be available in areas moving to Level 3.
How will the government define the areas that stay in Level 4?
Ramaphosa was actually quite clear in explaining that ‘most of the country’ will move in Level 3 restrictions by the end of May. But he didn’t divulge which regions are likely to be held back. A curosry glance at the data suggests the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape have the highest provincial rates of infection.
But what Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the NCC need to clarify is how the country would implement regional shifts in lockdown. If they judge it by province, for example, is that really fair on those in the Central Karoo part of the Western Cape? The province itself is a hot-spot, but this district has recorded no cases at all.
Media Release: Update on the coronavirus— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) May 13, 2020
As of 1pm on 13 May, the Western Cape has 4367 active cases of Covid-19, with a total of 6767 confirmed cases and 2283 recoveries. Statement: https://t.co/FY46LwwoOy pic.twitter.com/ZMV6o83X2o
If they do it by metropolitan and municipal areas, that could create a muddled enforcement system where people could, perhaps, work under Level 3 conditions but go home and live under Level 4 regulations. We wish the COGTA Minister all the best in delivering these terms, because they promise to be troublesome.
Will inter-provincial travel be impacted?
We may be getting one stage ahead of ourselves, but hear us out: At Level 2 of lockdown, inter-provincial travel is allowed (according to the health department’s information portal). But what if some locations have progressed at a more rapid rate than others? The Western and Northern Capes share a border, yet they are at opposite ends of the scale in terms of infection rates.
It applies to Level 3, because some areas could only be ready for this stage when others are ready to move up a gear. If Gauteng and Limpopo remain in Level 3, but someone wants to travel by road from Mpumalanga to North West after they have hypothetically moved to Level 2, that person technically wouldn’t be allowed access to provinces that are one step behind – unless they were making an utterly essential journey.
Could this be solved by a temporary permit, or a relaxation of provincial travel laws in some circumstances for provinces at Level 3? We hope Dlamini-Zuma has got some answers for us.
The big one: How does Level 3 differ from Level 4?
Yeah, a bit obvious this one, but this is what everyone looks for when the NCC holds their briefings. Quite simply, NDZ will need to tell us what the key differences are between Level 3 and Level 4 restrictions. We’re talking things like essential items, industries that can open for business, and the terms of social interaction.
Our list of 12 things to expect from the transition to Level 3 comes from the government’s own guidelines. You can expect a majority of these to be implemented by the end of this month, but of course, some directives are subject to change. And Dlamini-Zuma isn’t afraid to make the occasional u-turn, either.