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COVID-19: 3 months into state of disaster, some lockdown rules still questioned

Since then, government faced court battles as the public challenged the rationale of some of the regulations, including the resumption of the academic programme.

FILE: An SANDF soldier and a police officer check on a member of the public during the lockdown in Woodstock, Cape Town on 27 March 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The country has been under a state of disaster for exactly three months to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, but South Africans were still divided about whether government’s lockdown on certain industries was justifiable.

The High Court in Pretoria was soon expected to hear government’s application for leave to appeal after a recent ruling declared some of the lockdown regulations unconstitutional and invalid.

Many South Africans - and even the World Health Organisation (WHO) - applauded President Cyril Ramaphosa on 15 March when he announced the decision to shut down large parts of the economy initially for three weeks, forcing many to work from home.

The country was hopeful that the lockdown would only last for a few weeks as Ramaphosa said back then that teaching would resume after the Easter long weekend.

Since then, government faced court battles as the public challenged the rationale of some of the regulations, including the resumption of the academic programme.

President of the Liberty Fighters Network Reyno de Beer said many of government’s regulations had left South Africans feeling confused instead of safe.

“I think we were lied to [and] the government deceived us. COVID-19 created more questions than answers and it’s time now to expose this,” De Beer said.

Exercising or walking your dog soon turned into sensitive, confusing, and politically charged matters as Police Minister Bheki Cele and government shared conflicting messages with the public for days.

An unprecedented decision made by government to ban the sale of alcohol and tobacco for at least two months resulted in a significant decline in the crime rate, but also lead to a windfall for the black market.

While the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted, smokers remained hopeful the current legal battle aimed at forcing government to overturn the regulations on cigarettes would be successful.

WATCH: 3 months under state of national disaster: COVID-19 Situation Desk 15 June AM

‘COVID-19 HAS EXPOSED SOCIAL INEQUALITIES’

Meanwhile, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said her department was already looking at proposals to take better care of the poor beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zulu said COVID-19 had exposed the high number of people who are going to bed every night on empty stomachs.

“COVID-19 has pushed us to a point of finding solutions because we cannot afford to have people going hungry,” Zulu said.

In response to the dire need for food to survive, government implemented a special COVID-19 social relief of distress grant of R350.

“Who would have thought that the president would have announced the relief grant of R350? Under normal circumstances, we would have gone into long discussions about the grant. The bottom line is that people are hungry,” she added.

Several other financial relief options were made available, while non-governmental organisations had also stepped up to the challenge to distribute food parcels to the poor.

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