President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday evening that South Africans needed to understand that being confined to their homes would protect them and avoid pressure on the health system.
Ramaphosa announced a 5-level phased approach to easing the nationwide lockdown restrictions. He said the country would move from level 5 to level 4 next Friday, which still required people to stay at home but allowed some sectors of the economy to reopen under strict conditions.
Cabinet ministers were expected to provide details on what industries would be allowed to operate in due course, however, the president did say that cigarettes would be on sale and people would be allowed to exercise.
Ramaphosa said that while the lockdown he announced in March had worked to contain the spread of COVID-19, people should still stay home to avoid getting sick.
“As a result, if the virus spreads too quickly, there are not enough hospital beds, intensive care units, ventilators, personal protection equipment, or medicine for everyone who needs them,” Ramaphosa said.
“To make matters worse, people who are suffering from other conditions or need emergency procedures are unable to get the care they need. And in such circumstances, many lives that could have been saved, are lost,” he added.
He said government was preparing for the worst.
“By delaying the spread of the virus, we have had time to prepare our health facilities and mobilise some of the essential medical supplies needed to meet the inevitable increase in infections,” he said.
Ramaphosa also called on South Africans to hold on a little longer and not give up.