The Covid-19 national lockdown will ease slightly from Friday, 1 May. Some businesses will reopen under strict conditions, but many of the current restrictions will remain in place, as the risk of infection remains high.

The President announced on Thursday evening that SA is to implement a risk-adjusted strategy through which the government will take a deliberate and cautious approach to the easing of the current lockdown restrictions.

The country is to move from level five, the most drastic, to level four, which means that some activity can be allowed to resume, subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks.

The current lockdown comes to an end at midnight on May 1.

To ensure that South Africa’s response to the pandemic is as precise and targeted as possible, there will be a national level and separate levels for each province, district and metro.

From Friday next week, businesses that are permitted to resume operations will have to do so in a phased manner that will only allow for the return of the workforce in batches of no more than one-third.

Ministers will brief the nation next week on which sectors will be allowed to return to work.

Despite some sectors coming back online, the president encouraged those who could to adopt a work-from-home strategy and staff who are able to work remotely should be allowed to do so.

As the country moves to level four next week, borders will remain closed to international travel, except for the repatriation of SA nationals and foreign citizens. The travel between provinces will also still be prohibited, except for the transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals.

Public transport will continue to operate, with limitations on the number of passengers, who must all wear face masks. Furthermore, the government is calling on all citizens to wear face masks in public.

All gatherings, apart from funerals and for work, will remain prohibited. Conference and convention centres, entertainment venues, cinemas, and theatres will remain closed. Concerts, sporting events, and religious, cultural and social gatherings will not be allowed either.

(Acknowledgement and source: Business Day, 24 April 2020)