South Africa is currently operating under the adjusted Level 3 COVID-19 Regulations. The Regulations can be found at this link, with the recent changes set out in bold: https://www.gov.za/covid-19/about/alert-level-3-during-coronavirus-covid-19-lockdown. This is not the first set of Regulations to receive adjustments.
These latest changes ease restrictions which were imposed at the same Level 3 near the end of December, most notably allowing for the sale and purchase of alcohol again and easing the curfew period. There are still named hotspot areas as of 29 December.
It seems evident that the government is pressed to avoid going to a higher alert level, with more stringent regulations and a harder lockdown again, wherever possible, and which may be seen to be principally for purposes of sustaining the economy by trying to keep all businesses running without interruption as much as possible.
The reasons for the new adjusted level 3 as announced by President Ramaphosa last week on 01 February was that daily infections were significantly down since December and the hospitals had the capacity and ability to care for the number of patients. This has been said to mean that the country had passed the peak of the second wave.
This begins to blur the lines though on what is of sufficient concern to distinguish between alert levels 2, 3 and 4 in particular where the adjustments can be seen to be arbitrary or variable to an extent to try and stay at a particular level without a set idea of what is required for particular levels, requiring you to keep track of what little variations have been made in the existing level.
For example, it was notable that whilst the purchase of tobacco products were not permitted until long after the sale of alcohol was first permitted, when a second wave hit South Africa in December the government banned alcohol but left tobacco products alone (though this was related to concerns about the recklessness people were showing during the festive period that was putting hospitals under strain).
Whilst it is quite natural for legislation and regulations to be amended to take into account new and updated understandings of situations, there is still a disparity as to where the boundaries are between the different levels. This is potentially from a fear of backlash if more stringent regulations are imposed by moving up an entire level, or not addressing the pandemic appropriately if allowing a movement down a level.
For you, are you just happy to have the current restrictions eased up a bit more? Are we moving towards a drop again to Level 2, or will we move in a long cycle of varying Level 3 regulations depending on the compliance by citizens with the regulations to prevent further increases in infections, including the new strains?
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Author – Murray Taylor