In a national address on Sunday (28 February), president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government would move to a level 1 lockdown as the country continues to see a decline in Covid-19 infections.
In an accompanying gazette published by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, government further clarified the exact rules around the relaxed level 1 lockdown and what South Africans can and cannot do.
Among the key changes are new curfew hours and rules around the sale of alcohol.
The gazette states that every person is confined to their place of residence from 00h00 until 04h00 daily, unless a person is performing an essential service or has an emergency. People travelling on late-night flights have also been given exemption.
Licensed premises are also allowed to sell alcohol for on-site and off-site consumption, subject to the curfew and existing liquor regulations.
Despite the relaxed restrictions, Dlamini-Zuma has outlined some of the ‘specific exclusions’ which remain prohibited in the country. These include:
- Night vigils;
- After-funeral gatherings including “after- tears” gatherings;
- Night clubs;
- Most of the country’s land borders remain closed, with some exceptions;
- Passenger ships for international leisure purposes, excluding small crafts, in line with health and border law enforcement;
- Attendance of any sporting event by spectators.
The gazette also includes a specific section on schools and the return of students.
The latest guidelines, published by the Department of Basic Education on 15 February, detail the procedures for the testing of learners and teachers before being allowed onto school property, as well as the protocols in the event that a person tests positive for Covid-19.
They also provide further information on how schools will catch up on lost teaching time, while introducing a new timetable programme to limit contact within the amended school year.
The amended calendar comes after the return of public schools was delayed by several weeks until 15 February, due to the impact of a second Covid-19 wave in the country.
The updated calendar will now see the academic year end on 15 December 2021, with a total of 192 actual school days planned – from 195 days previously.
While missing out on several weeks of schooling at the start of the year, the updated calendar will mean that students will miss less than a week of teaching time at the cost of holidays.