President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that most of South Africa will move to level 3 lockdown restrictions by the end of May.

However, he noted in an address to the nation on Wednesday evening (13 May), that a number of ‘hotspots’ which have reported a high number of cases will likely remain at level 4 restrictions.

The president warned that the transition to the next phase of the coronavirus response will in many ways be more difficult than the present one. The risk of infection outbreaks will increase as more people return to work, he said.

“Alert level 4 – which is the current level across the country – retains most of the lockdown regulations but permits the gradual opening up of certain parts of the economy. Alert levels 3 to 1 allow a progressively greater relaxation of restrictions,” he said.

“As I indicated then, some areas of the country may be designated at a particular alert level, while others may be designated at other levels.”

This would be done according to the rate of infection in an area and the state of readiness and the capacity of its health facilities to cope with treating infected people.

“For now, infections are mostly concentrated in a few metropolitan municipalities and districts in the country.

“It is important that we maintain stringent restrictions in these areas and restrict travel out of these areas to parts of the country with lower rates of infection,” Ramaphosa said.

While he did not specifically indicate which areas will remain under stricter level 4 restrictions, government data shows that parts of the Western Cape, Gauteng and KZN have been the hardest hit.

Ramaphosa announced that there are now 12,750 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa. This is an increase of 724 cases  – the highest to date – from the 11,350 cases reported on Tuesday, with the country having recorded 698 new infections in the prior 24 hour period.

The president said that the total number of deaths has reached 219.

The below map, published by the Presidency on Wednesday evening  shows the areas in South Africa that have reported the highest number of cases:

Ramaphosa said that more details will be provided on the area-specific lockdown following government consultations.

“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on level 4.

“We will make further announcements after the completion of the consultations.

“In the coming days, we will also be announcing certain changes to level 4 regulations to expand permitted business activities in the retail space and e-commerce and reduce restrictions on exercise,” he said.

Read: Most of South Africa will move to level 3 lockdown by the end of May: Ramaphosa