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Makhura: Gauteng set for move to level 3 lockdown

Premier David Makhura acknowledged that Gauteng still had the second-highest infection rate in the country, but said that the economy was taking strain.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the provincial executive council on 31 March 2020 rolled out massive community screenings and testing programmes in Alexandra township to screen residents for coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Ahmed Kajee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng will move down to level 3 lockdown for coronavirus come the month of June. That's if Premier David Makhura has a say in the matter.

Makhura announced on Tuesday during the Gauteng legislature's first virtual sitting that the province was improving steadily, and that COVID-19 was a socio-economic issue along with a health issue, giving international examples of broken economies.

But if he does get his way, this will happen despite the province having the second-highest number of positive recorded coronavirus cases in the country, according to statistics from the Health Department.

"The lockdown has worked for us in Gauteng. We keep saying we have evidence because, after the lockdown, the number of cases per day shot down," he said.

Makhura praised the province's bounce back from the virus, saying that it moved from holding 50% of confirmed cases in the country to 15%, and that it had the highest recovery rate, sitting at an average of 70%.

"We can't have a lockdown at this level for long," Makhura added, describing the dire financial impact the lockdown was having on the province, which is the country's economic hub.

"We are preparing for level 3, we want to move to level 3, to reopen the economy. But in a responsible way, in a more cautious way... We can't stay at level 4 for too long because too many people don't have the means to support themselves.

"At the beginning of June, we are going to level 3 as Gauteng. But Gauteng cannot go to level 3 in a disjointed way. We can't have one municipality at level 4 and another one in level 3 and another one in level 2... We are going to level 3 together."

The National Command Council (NCC) is the only body in the country that can decide on which level of lockdown the country can be in, which the president announces.

Gauteng now joins the Western Cape in calling for a decreased lockdown for their provinces. Last week, the province's Premier Alan Winde said that he wanted the whole province to drop down a level of lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who co-chairs the NCC with Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Wednesday night said that most of the country would move to level three. But hotspots like the Cape may have to stay at level four.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.