The move follows Ramaphosa’s designation of the country as being in a “state of national disaster” a week ago due to the spreading coronavirus, prompting him to institute measures to limit the pandemic which first hit South Africa in early March.
The current number of confirmed cases is twice the number of Friday’s count, and this might have led the President and his fellow members of the National Coronavirus Command Council to put heads together to come up with this three-week lockdown to stop the outbreak in its tracks.
On Monday, 23 March 2020, Ramaphosa spoke during an evening televised speech. He said the lockdown “is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”
“While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater,” Ramaphosa continued.
During the lockdown, all South Africans – except those in designated essential services – will have no choice but to stay home, and any other individuals will not be allowed to venture out of their homes except under strict controlled circumstances.
These circumstances include the seeking of medical care, buying food, medicine, and other supplies or the collection of social grants, the President said.
Apart from the stay-at-home measure, the President stated that all South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries would be placed under quarantine for fourteen days.
Non-South Africans arriving on flights from the nine high-risk countries announced last week would be prohibited entry and turned back at the airport, the President added.