President Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a stern warning to South Africans ahead of the country’s move to a level 2 lockdown at midnight on Monday evening (17 August).
Writing in his weekly open letter to the nation, Ramaphosa said that the country must urgently focus its efforts on recovery, but warned that a move to a lower level is not a ‘free for all’.
“It is a sign of the progress we are making in reducing new infections and demand on our health facilities. It is also a very important development as we strive to restart our economy. But it is too soon to celebrate,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that country is ‘still very much in the middle of a deadly pandemic’ that has claimed 11,000 lives in South Africa alone.
At more than half a million confirmed cases, the country has the fifth-highest number of infections globally, and there is always a chance of a resurgence of the disease, he said.
“If we ever need a stark reminder of the need for vigilance, we should look to recent events thousands of kilometres away in New Zealand.
“Three months since the country was declared coronavirus-free, New Zealand is once again under lockdown. Although the latest outbreak was of relatively few cases, the government swiftly re-imposed lockdown restrictions.”
Ramaphosa said that similar restrictions have had to be reimposed in several parts of Europe as they experience a ‘second wave’ of infections.
“We now need to manage this risk and ensure the gains we have made thus far in containing the pandemic’s spread are not reversed. The greatest threat to the health of nation right now is complacency.
“It may be that we are now permitted to meet friends and family, to visit entertainment venues, to travel for leisure and to consume alcohol in restaurants, bars and taverns.
“But as the old adage goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Move to level 2 lockdown
As coronavirus cases decrease, Ramaphosa said that the country will move to lockdown level 2 and ease a number of restrictions.
- All restrictions on inter-provincial travel will be lifted;
- Accommodation facilities will be permitted, in line with approved protocols;
- Restaurants, bars and taverns will be permitted to operate subject to regulations;
- Restrictions on the sale of tobacco will be lifted;
- Prohibition on the sale of alcohol will be lifted subject to restrictions. On-site consumption will be permitted until 22h00;
- Liquor outlets can sell liquor from Monday to Thursday, between 09h00 and 17h00;
- Gyms and fitness centres can open, with approved protocols in place;
- The curfew will remain in place from 22h00 – 04h00;
- Gatherings of more than 50 people are still prohibited, as are sports events with spectators;
- International travel is still prohibited outside of the existing regulations.
The relaxed lockdown restrictions come as South Africa sees a decline in reported coronavirus cases and deaths.
In South Africa, there have been 3,692 new cases, taking the total reported to 587,345. Deaths reached 11,839, while recoveries have climbed to 472,377, leaving the country with a balance of 103,129 active cases.