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Ramaphosa announces extension of Level 3 lockdown – but no hard lockdown for businesses

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On Monday President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the Level 3 lockdown already in place until 15 February, with borders being closed to international travel. The alcohol ban will also remain in place.

The country has had 4 600 Covid-related deaths since the start of 2021, and there are currently more than 15 000 people with Covid in hospitals around the country.

“New infections in KZN and the Western Cape have grown fast and have now far exceeded the peak during the first wave. Infections in Gauteng are growing exponentially and are expected to increase further as more residents of Gauteng return to the province following the festive break,” said Ramaphosa.

Funerals will be permitted but will be limited to no more than 50 people, providing masks a re worn by those in attendance and social distancing is maintained.

Most of the measures that were announced on 28 December 2020 will remain in place:

  • Given the risk of widespread transmission, most indoor and outdoor gatherings will not be permitted. This includes social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds.
  • This does not include funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums and gyms. Funerals may not be attended by more than 50 people, and there needs to be social distancing, hand sanitising and mask wearing.
  • The hours of curfew will now start at 9pm and end earlier, at 5am.
  • It remains compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space.
  • The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol is still not be permitted.
  • All beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed to the public. As before, botanical gardens, national parks and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place may remain open to the public.

The country’s 20 land ports of entry will be closed until 15 February.

Who is allowed to enter and leave the country

People will be however still be allowed to enter or depart the country for:

  • the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods,
  • emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition,
  • the return of South African nationals, permanent residents or persons with other valid visas,
  • diplomats,
  • the departure of foreign nationals,
  • daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend school in South Africa.

Reaching herd immunity

Ramaphosa also announced a comprehensive vaccination strategy which will roll out to all parts of the country until “herd immunity” is reached – when roughly 67% of the population or 40 million people have been vaccinated.

First to receive the vaccine will be about 1.2 million frontline healthcare workers, followed by essential workers, the elderly and the vulnerable. The third phase will involve the vaccination of the remaining adult population of about 22.5 million people.

What this means for accountants and business

There seems a reluctance to revert to hard lockdowns that so severely damaged the economy in the early parts of the lockdown in 2020. This means businesses will be able to operate more or less as they are now.

Accountants will find their services in vital demand as companies continue to navigate their way out of this recession. Providing strategic interventions and advice on business liquidity will therefore continue to be high on the list of services required by clients.