Covid-19 Lockdown

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

South Africa is bracing for its first government-imposed lockdown as part of stringent measures to slow down the spread of Coronavirus.

On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced government’s decision to enforce a 21-day lockdown, which will take effect at midnight on Thursday.

The televised announcement has awoken many across the Republic to the seriousness of the pandemic, which has claimed over 17 000 lives globally.

Dr Jakkie Cilliers, the Head of African Futures and Innovation Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), says the President made the right call.

“I think it is the right strategy. President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, have shown exemplary leadership,” Cilliers told SAnews on Tuesday.

Cilliers said given the circumstances the country finds itself in, with 554 confirmed cases of COVID-19, there isn’t room for an alternative to the lockdown. 

South Africa registered its first case of Coronavirus on 5 March 2020.

With the number of cases is expected to spike, Cilliers said the world finds itself in challenging times.

“It is going to be a challenging time for all,” he said.

The lockdown, the President said in his address, is a move aimed at saving citizens from infection.

However, Cilliers raised the concern about what would most likely happen once the lockdown ends.

“What worries me is that we will have a lockdown for 21 days and people’s lives will go back to normal. Each time they resume normal life, there will [likely] be a spike in the infection rate,” he said.

Notwithstanding, Cilliers is confident that citizens will make a concerted effort to practice good hygiene in the fight against the virus.

Cilliers commended government on the fact that the provision of services such as the payment of grants will continue.

Impact on the economy 

The virus is not sparing the economy either – not at home, and certainly not elsewhere in the world.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), which has pronounced it supports the President’s efforts, said business recognises the need for a lockdown period.

“The country’s business leaders, who all stand firmly behind the President’s leadership at this moment of national disaster, recognise the need for the lockdown period, for social distancing and strict remote working arrangements.

“Such strong action is necessary to help bring the pandemic under control and flatten the curve of the infection rate.

“The call for immediate, swift and extraordinary action is acknowledged, and business will do everything it can to ensure the President’s appeal is implemented to full effect,” BUSA said.

Business also threw its weight behind the public health management programme, which accompanies the lockdown. The programme will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management of the virus.

As South Africa and many others continue to manoeuvre their way out of the grip of the virus, business bodies have endorsed the Solidarity Fund announced by the President.

“All members of the various business bodies have unreservedly endorsed the Solidarity Fund announced by the President. The nationwide call for funding will contribute in a meaningful way to support the vulnerable in this time of need.

“Funds received from corporate and other entities, like stokvels, as well as willing and able individuals, and the international community, will drive social cohesion,” said BUSA.

BUSA urged all businesses to abide by the President’s call to avoid general exploitation of the situation by way of market and price manipulation.

“While we all recognise the need to make sacrifices during this demanding time, we must stand in unity with our government and stay at home to overcome the current challenging circumstances. As businesspeople, we firmly believe that through this crisis, we will lay the basis for a stronger South Africa, taking collective responsibility for our future,” said BUSA Vice President, Martin Kingston.

During the lockdown, all South Africans will have to stay at home until midnight on Thursday, 16 April 2020. Grocery stores, medical and banking services will still be available. -