SUMMARY: Ministers respond to COVID-19 lockdown

With 34 hours to go until South Africa goes into lockdown, ministers are explaining their roles in the management of the pandemic.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa will go into a 21-day lockdown beginning Thursday evening in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The ministers of mining, public services and administration, arts, culture, and sports and communications briefed the media on the measures their sectors will be taking to limit the spread and mitigate the effects of the novel coronavirus.

READ: Countdown to South Africa's 21 day lockdown

Minister Gwede Mantashe met with stakeholders, mining companies and unions and reported there is support for the measures in the sector.

Mantashe said the safety of the people working in the sector is the first priority for the department.

The minister said limited economic activity will be supported in the sector, including the security of energy supply, water supply, and the production of medical products.

He said mining operations will be downscaled dramatically.

READ: COVID-19 cases in SA climb to 709

Mantashe said the mining sector is willing to provide empty hostels for quarantine facilities and medical facilities.

Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu reported on the measures the department would be taken.

WATCH: Social Cluster briefing on lockdown

"It is important that during this period of nationwide lockdown, government continues to provide certain critical and essential public services that need to be provided at all times, even in a time of disaster of this nature," Mchunu said.

He mentioned the emotional state of the people rendering the services and said there may be arguments made that staff are treated unfairly.

The minister said the Department is working with unions and will continue to work with unions to work through this period of anxiety.

Mchunu said while many public servants will be required to work from home while maintaining productivity, punctuality, and the availability for communication.

Arts, Culture and Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa began his address by remembering late Sanusi and traditional healer, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa who died on Wednesday.

The minister said the state of disaster's measures against large gatherings have decimated the sports and creative industries.

READ: Celebrities hit by COVID-19

He called for support and solidarity.

Mthethwa said public broadcasters should be biased to local content to help the industry recover.

He said the need for resources in the industry is vast, and relief funds would be prioritised for artists who have already been booked by live events and broadcast shows that are now to be cancelled.

Mthethwa stated live streaming would be available for artists such as comedians and musicians to continue with their work.

Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said the SABC has made two channels available for virtual classrooms that have been created with the Department of Basic Education.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said R100-million has been set aside to help small businesses in the communication industry.

WEEK IN ONE: Initiation, religious gatherings affected

The minister explained that bandwidth will be increased to deal with larger demand for internet access.

Telecommunications companies have pledged their support to assist with mass communication including broadcasting messages to all phones with official communication on COVID-19.

The minister said price gouging would also be legislated against so businesses could not profit from the disaster.

Ndabeni-Abrahams announced that government, NPO, and education sites are zero-rated websites requiring no data to access.

The minister said a channel would be made available over the Easter weekend to broadcast church services digitally and terrestrially.


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