Government has declared seven metros and five districts coronavirus (Covid-19) hotspots where lockdown alert levels may be escalated and movement restricted after the country moves to level 3 on June 1, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Thursday.

The metros are Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, and Nelson Mandela Bay. The affected districts are West Coast, Overberg, and Cape Winelands in the Western Cape, and Chris Hani in the Eastern Cape and iLembe in KwaZulu-Natal.

Minister of COGTA, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel briefing media on the classification of industries as part of the risk-adjusted strategy on re-opening the economy as announced by President Ramaphosa. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Dlamini-Zuma confirmed that these regions would also move to level 3 lockdown on Monday, but added they could be subjected to “higher level restrictions, including restricting movement and to and from hotspots”, should other interventions to reduce the rate of transmission fail.

The schedule of lockdown regulations for level 3 lifts the night-time military curfew, extends the permitted exercise time to 6pm, allows the sale of alcohol from Mondays to Thursdays, but maintains the controversial ban on the sale of cigarettes.It also keeps in place the ban on inter-provincial travel, except for those who have permits to allow them to work in another province or attend a funeral. 

Dlamini-Zuma said this decision was taken because “inter-provincial travel has contributed to community transmission”. She reiterated that the decision to ease restrictions was informed by South Africa’s socio-economic constraints, though the infection rate was increasing and the expected peak of coronavirus cases in the country was “still on the horizon”.

Photo: EPA

Some eight million South Africans are expected to return to work under level 3, including the civil service. Dlamini-Zuma said government was obliging every company to have “a Covid-19 compliance officer and plan”, which would be clearly communicated to all employees and open for inspection by government. The measures announced on Thursday were not easy, but all were necessary to save lives, she said.