President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday warned South Africans that they may have to prepare for a new reality in which the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19) will be a part of daily life.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at 10 015 with a death toll of 194.
He added South Africans should be prepared to continue to live with the coronavirus for a year or even more.
“We must be prepared for a new reality in which the fight against Covid-19 becomes part of our daily existence. Our success in overcoming the coronavirus will ultimately be determined by the changes we make in our behaviour,” he said.
After lockdown South Africans will still be required to observe physical distancing, wear face masks, wash hands regularly, and avoid contact with other people.
He said workplaces, schools, universities, colleges and other public places needed to be re-organised to limit transmission.
He said people would need to adapt to new ways of worshipping, socialising, exercising and meeting to minimise opportunities for the virus to spread.
Government hopes to steadily reduce the alert level by keeping the rate of infection down and getting the country’s health system ready for the inevitable increase in cases.
“As the restrictions on economic activity and daily life are eased, it is vital that all South Africans maintain that firm sense of personal responsibility. In all that we do, in every sphere of life, we must take care of our own health and the health of others,” he explained.
Ramaphosa said whether as individuals, employers, employees, government, civil society, trade unions or businesses, citizens needed to continue to play a role in fighting the pandemic.
He said the next phase of the country’s national response was as much about continuity as it was about change or innovation.
Ramaphosa said global health experts were warning of a ‘second wave’ of infections as public life resumed, adding that a number of countries – including Germany, Iran and China – had seen a rise in new infections since they relaxed certain restrictions.
“We will be no different. We can and must expect infections to rise as more people return to work. We must accept the reality, prepare for it and adapt to it,” he said.
He went on to say that easing the lockdown restrictions must not result in careless behaviour by individuals or reckless practices by businesses keen to resume activity at the cost of human health.
Meanwhile, businesses are calling for government to move from Level 4 to reduce the impact of an economic fallout.
Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso said it was also urgent as it lifted the bureaucratic load.
She said government could still show it was agile and able to change underlying principles, explaining that switching to a negative list approach would relieve the pressure on government and the economy.
Mavuso said for businesses, operating under Level 4 was almost unmanageable, as some companies could not open with 50% of their staff, while others could not function because their key suppliers were not deemed essential.
She explained that government must be agile in responding to changing conditions, saying the risk-based framework for opening the economy allowed agility to some extent by giving it tools to fine-tune.
“The challenge is that this implies an immense bureaucracy, choosing which parts of the economy to open when, understanding how different points on the supply chain fundamentally interconnect, all while many businesses and individuals need to apply for permits to work. Red tape is bad for business at the best of times, but right now it is yet another source of pressure in the crisis. It need not be done this way,” she said.