President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa’s adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations will be relaxed as the country sees a decline in its third wave of Covid-19 cases.
In a national address on Sunday evening, the president said that a sustained decline in infections has been seen over the last two weeks.
While the third wave peaked and declined in Gauteng, there is now a marked decline in all provinces, with the exception of the Northern Cape and the Free State, he said.
As cases decline, Ramaphosa said that the country will move to lockdown level 2 on Monday (13 September) with restrictions to be eased in the following areas:
- The hours of curfew will now run from 23h00 – 04h00. Non-essential establishments such as bars and gyms will need to close at 22h00 to give staff to get home.
- All gatherings will now be limited to 250 people indoors, while outdoor gatherings will be limited to 500 people. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these amounts of people, then no more than 50% of the floor space may be used.
- The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will now be permitted from 10h00 – 18h00 from Monday-Friday. On-site consumption will be subject to licensing permissions until 22h00.
- Funerals remain restricted to no more than 50 people, and, as before, night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed.
Ramaphosa said that these restrictions will be reviewed in two weeks. The government will also present its plan for vaccine passports at this time so that people can attend sporting and other events, he said.
The president warned that existing regulations remain in place – including the compulsory wearing of masks, social distancing and a ban on after-funeral gatherings.
“It is a criminal offence not to do so, and the managers of shops and restaurants as well as drivers of taxis and buses have a responsibility to ensure that their customers wear masks, and that the appropriate social distancing measures are in place.”
Over 25% of adult South African have now received one vaccine dose, while over seven million people have been fully vaccinated, Ramaphosa said.
“We are now administering a million doses every four to five days. The government has secured sufficient vaccines to vaccinate the entire adult population, and the supply of vaccines is no longer a constraint. However, we need to do much more.
“While everyone aged 18 years and older is eligible to be vaccinated, we are concentrating our efforts and resources on those over 60 years of age and those with co-morbidities.”
Ramaphosa said that the sooner South Africans are all vaccinated, the sooner government can open up sports venues to spectators and the reopening of tourism.
A total of 35,965 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, with 3,961 new cases, which represents an 11% positivity rate, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Sunday.
A further 126 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, taking total fatalities to 84,877 to date.