Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has announced that wearing cloth masks will become compulsory for all South Africans once the country enters level 4 of the lockdown.
The minister said it will be mandatory for all citizens to have their mouths covered when leaving their homes in order to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
She was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon, where she fleshed out the details of the government’s risk-adjusted strategy aimed at easing lockdown regulations.
President Cyril Ramaphosa this week announced a five-phased relaxation of regulations that will kick-start from next week Friday.
Dlamini-Zuma said government will not hesitate to revert to a hard lockdown if there is a surge in infections.
“If the numbers go up, we go back to level 5. So it’s all in our hands South Africans, whether we stick to what we do, so we must make the choice ourselves.”
The minister said the adjustment does not mean government has completely lifted the lockdown.
With over 4,200 infections and almost 80 deaths, Dlamini-Zuma said everyone will be expected to wear masks to guard against the disease.
“We know that these masks may not be easily available. If you don’t have a mask, use a scarf, use a t-shirt – so you have to have your nose and mask covered in public.”
Several South Africans had raised concerns around their health and keeping fit.
The minister said there will be provision for this, but with limitations.
“Exercise will be allowed but under strict conditions. Gyms will remain closed and organized sports or walking or jogging is not allowed. We will put very strict regulations under which exercise can be done.”
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel will provide detail on how the new restrictions under level 4 are going to impact on businesses.