President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a “nationwide lockdown” as of 26 March for 21 days. In his words:
“Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs us that we need to urgently and dramatically escalate our response. The next few days are crucial. Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few 100 to tens of thousands and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands.
“This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, which has a large number of people with suppressed 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 acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease.”
The full speech can be viewed below:
For highlights relevant to travel:
As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nationwide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday the 26th of March.
The nationwide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following:
- From midnight on Thursday 26th March until midnight Thursday the 16th of April:
- All South Africans will have to stay at home
- 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
- All shops and businesses will be closed except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial payment services, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers
A number of additional measures will be implemented with immediate effect to strengthen prevention measures:
- Some of these 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 temporarily be suspended
- International travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9th March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine
The President announced a set of interventions aimed to help the economy. One of the interventions includes a Solidarity Fund to which South African businesses, organisations and individuals can contribute.
Government is providing seed capital of R150 million and the private sector has already pledged to support this fund with financial contributions in the coming period. The Rupert and Oppenheimer families have also pledged R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Secondly, the government has vowed to support people whose livelihoods will be affected through a temporary employee relief scheme. In the event that it becomes necessary, the government will utilise the reserves within the UIF system to extend support to those workers in SMEs and other vulnerable firms who are faced with loss of income and whose companies are unable to provide support. Details of these will be made available within the next few days.
Thirdly, the government will assist businesses that may be in distress through tax subsidies. The Department of Small Business Development has made over R500 million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress through a simplified application process. (Website live from midnight on 23 March)
Furthermore, the Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.