The government eased South Africa’s adjusted level one lockdown regulations at the end of December, removing the evening curfew, relaxing rules around the sale of alcohol and allowing gatherings of as many as 2,000 people in specific settings.
The changes, gazetted by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on 30 December, also introduce an element of ‘self-policing’ with South Africans facing potential fines and/or imprisonment for failing to follow the regulations around gatherings.
Notably, any person who knows or should reasonably have suspected that the number of persons attending an event exceeds the set limits commits an offence, and on conviction, is liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months.
While event organisers will also face punishment for failing to follow protocols, the adjusted regulations effectively hold individuals accountable and require them to act responsibly when attending events.
Under current level 1 regulations, the number of people permitted at an indoor gathering is 1,000, while the number of people permitted at outdoor events is 2,000.
In instances where a venue cannot accommodate this many people, no more than 50% of the venue capacity may be used with people spaced at least 1.5 metres apart from one another.
Other general changes to be aware of under the new regulations include:
- The curfew has been lifted with no restrictions on the hours of movement of people.
- The risk of an increase in infections is still high, given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant. The government, therefore, calls on all organisers of gatherings to ensure that all health protocols are observed at all times and that all attendees are encouraged to be vaccinated.
- Alcohol establishments that have licences to operate beyond 23h00 have reverted back to full licence conditions.
- The NCCC will continue to monitor the situation closely and will make further adjustments as necessary, particularly if pressure on health facilities increases.
- The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, and failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence.