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Patel: It's now up to businesses, workers and consumers to curb COVID-19 spread

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said that the hard lockdown was a 'blunt instrument' but one that bought valuable time for the government.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - As the country prepares to move to level 3 from Monday, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said that this was the most significant reopening of the economy since lockdown began 63 days ago.

The easing of restrictions is expected to see around eight million people return to work, almost the entire workforce of the country, and includes an end to the ban on alcohol sales and religious worship, which will be allowed from Monday.

Patel said that key sectors of the economy, including retail stores, would be able to operate at full capacity, with only some exceptions.

Ebrahim Patel said that the hard lockdown was a "blunt instrument" but one that bought valuable time for the government.

While the lockdown helped contain the spread of the virus, it also inflicted huge damage on the economy and people’s livelihoods.

Patel said that lockdown evels 4 and 5 were about keeping most people at home. Now there’s a change.

"Level 3, instead, is based on most South Africans being at work – that’s the big shift in level 3. And the shift is therefore to a more flexible and collaborative set of arrangements, including regulations that enable businesses to do more."

Patel said that it was now up to businesses, workers and consumers as he warned that the number of infections was still likely to rise.

"So the focus does shift to businesses and workers, to consumers taking careful measures to avoid or limit the spread of the virus."

WATCH: SA lockdown level 3: sale of alcohol, religious gatherings and schools open

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