On March 23rd, 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the South African nation regarding the measures that would be put into place to combat the spread of COVID-19. He announced that the country would be entering into a national lockdown, effective immediately, with the goal of keeping the population safe and limiting the unemployment rate as much as possible.
During this time, strict measures were put into place to slow the spread of the virus.
- A nationwide lockdown, where individuals were not allowed to see family and friends and certain industries were shut down overnight
- A level system, with restrictions ranging from level 1 (more relaxed) to level 5 (extreme measures)
- A curfew from 4 am to 10 pm
- The ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes
At the time, the idea of being confined to our homes for a few weeks seemed manageable. However, five months later, the country is still under lockdown restrictions and has yet to reach level 1.
This has resulted in:
- Five months of staying at home
- Five months of not being able to travel
- Five months of remote learning or not attending school or university
- Five months of working from home
There has also been confusion and mistrust surrounding the government’s decision to ban the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, with many questioning the motives behind this decision.
On August 15th, 2020, President Ramaphosa addressed the nation again, this time with the goal of reviving certain industries and decreasing the unemployment rate. He announced the following changes, which were to be implemented on August 17th, 2020:
- The lifting of the ban on travel outside of one’s province
- Restaurants and bars can operate with proper protocols in place
- The lifting of the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol (with certain conditions)
- The lifting of the ban on visiting family and friends (while still requiring masks to be worn)
However, certain restrictions remain in place, including:
- The ban on international travel
- The ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, including weddings and funerals
- The ban on spectators at sporting events
- The curfew from 10 pm to 4 am
- The recommendation to continue working from home where possible
The national state of disaster was also extended until September 15th, 2020.
It’s important to note that the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a complex and fluid situation, and the restrictions and guidelines may change as the situation develops.