Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma conceded the government has fallen short in implementing its planned social and economic interventions.
In a media conference on Thursday, she said government measures have at times not fully reached the intended recipients, adding "through collaboration and concerted actions, we will better target our interventions, so that we see a brighter and better South Africa, beyond the virus".
This concession came as the government detailed a number of regulations aimed at easing the nationwide lockdown which will see the resumption of economic activities in most sectors.
Dlamini-Zuma said she could not predict when the country would be moving to Level 2, adding some parts of the country could enter it before others.
After giving details on the resumption of alcohol sales, she defended the continued cigarette ban under Level 3 of the lockdown, saying all measures the government had implemented were difficult, but necessary.
"There is plenty of scientific evidence and it will all be aired in court as the matter is in court."
Dlamini-Zuma has been the subject of criticism, with many blaming her for the ban on cigarettes.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association served the government with court papers in early May to challenge its decision to retain the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products under Level 4 of the lockdown.
Under Level 3, the sale of liquor would be permitted between Mondays and Thursdays from 09:00 to 17:00, Dlamini-Zuma said on Thursday afternoon.
On-site consumption is prohibited and e-commerce sales will be permitted, subject to the same trading days and times. "The minister of trade and industry will elaborate in this regard; suffice it to say, no special or events liquor licenses will be issued for the duration of the state of the national disaster," she added.
According to Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel, the government had met with supermarkets, bottle stores, alcohol producers, taverns and other on-site consumption companies.
"Many players recognised that the government's concerns are real and we needed to ensure that any reopening is managed very carefully.
Any company with a liquor licence for off- or on-site consumption can sell liquor under Level 3 for takeaways only.
"The liquor industry has agreed to take a number of steps to reduce the risk of transmission," Patel said.
Dlamini-Zuma added the easing of the regulations would also allow for exercise between 06:00 and 18:00.
"As said by the president, we will lift the curfew and allow more time for exercising, walking, and cycling. However, this is permitted so long as this is not done in organised groupings. In this regard, health protocols and social distancing must be strictly observed," she said.
Dlamini-Zuma also announced travel between provinces would remain prohibited, with the exception of those in possession of permits to attend funerals or conduct essential services.
International ports of entry would remain closed, except for those designated by the minister of home affairs to undertake transportation of fuel cargo and goods, humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies, and movements for diplomatic and international organisations and staff, she added.
"The minister of home affairs will elaborate on the category of persons allowed to undertake international travel under exceptional circumstances - these include those returning to work, study or residence here and abroad.
"Suffice it to say, this category of persons will be expected to adhere to strict entry and exit protocols, which include screening, quarantine or isolation, sanitisation, social distancing and the wearing of masks," Dlamini-Zuma said.
'No one is forced to go to church'
She added people under the age 60 were discouraged from attending church services, saying nobody was forced to go to church.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that places of worship would be open under Level 3 was met with much criticism by political parties.
On Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema called on faith-based leaders to refrain from opening places of worship.
"The government has just opened an option and there are very strict and stringent measures that have to be followed when people go to church. Not just the numbers but what must happen," Dlamini-Zuma said.
The government has continued its message for people to stay at home unless they are going to places of work or shops to buy essential services.
"Our message remains the same - work from home if you can, wash your hands, and maintain a safe 1.5m social distance from the next person."
Dlamini-Zuma said under Level 3, local governments would operate close to full operation, while all public servants would be required to return to work, with the exception of those who have permission not to.
"Consequently, council meetings and gatherings can resume with strict social distancing, hygiene and health measures. Directions in this regard will be issued."