South Africa will go into a national lockdown at midnight on Thursday, 26 March, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday night.

The shutdown will last for 21 days.

During that time, all businesses must shut down, other than a list of those considered vital.

The full list of those exempted has yet to be published by the time of publication.

In his address, President Ramaphosa said that businesses that may continue operation will include the following:

  • pharmacies
  • laboratories
  • banks
  • essential finance systems, such as the JSE
  • supermarkets
  • petrol stations
  • healthcare providers
  • companies involved in making or distributing food, basic goods, and medical supplies.

Companies with continuous operations, such as furnaces and underground mines, will be expected to put their operations on care and maintenance, Ramaphosa said.

A similar list of people will be exempted from travel restrictions that will also be in place. People who will be allowed to travel, Ramaphosa said, include:

  • health workers, in both the public and private sectors
  • emergency workers
  • security services, including police, soldiers, traffic officers
  • those in the production, supply, and distribution of food and other basic goods
  • those in essential banking systems
  • people who maintain water, electricity, and similar systems.
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