President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa’s Covid-19 restrictions will be strengthened as the country moves to an adjusted level 2 lockdown from Monday (31 May).
In a national address on Sunday (30 May), the president said that South Africa is moving into a third wave of Covid-19 infections. After several months of low transmission, there has been a spike in cases in several parts of the country, Ramaphosa said.
Over the last seven days, he said that the country has seen an average of 3,745 daily new infections.
“The proportion of Covid-19 tests that are positive has more than doubled in the last month from around 4% to more than 11%, even as we have increased testing across the country. We are advised that a positivity rate of over 5% is a cause for concern.”
He said the Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Gauteng have reached the statistical threshold for a third wave, with the rest of the country set to follow shortly.
Ramaphosa said that an increase in gatherings was directly responsible for the increased transmission, with funerals and school sporting events highlighted as particularly problematic.
He said that the recommendations are based on the sustained increase in new cases in the last 14 days, increased hospital admissions in almost all provinces and an increase in the proportion of Covid tests that are positive.
The president said that South Africans have also grown fatigued from more than a year of lockdowns and had grown lackadaisical in wearing and masks and practising social distancing.
Further restrictions are being imposed to ensure the healthcare sector is not overwhelmed and to allow as many people as possible to be vaccinated before the pea of the third wave hits.
The restrictions which will be introduced under the adjusted level 2 lockdown include:
- An evening curfew between 23h00 – 04h00;
- Non-essential establishments such as restaurants and bars must close at 22h00 to allow staff to travel before curfew;
- All gatherings are limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors;
- Where a venue is too small to accommodate these people, then no more than 50% of the venue capacity can be used;
- Funerals remain restricted to 100 people, while after-funeral gatherings remain prohibited.
- Night vigils, after- funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed.
The president said that while the country is headed towards a third wave of infections, “we do not yet know how severe this wave will be or for how long it will last”.
“It is important that we strictly observe all the health protocols by wearing a mask, keeping our distance from others and ensuring proper ventilation. But wherever possible, we should cut down on our contacts during this time,” the president stressed.
“That may mean postponing social engagements, avoiding public spaces and not travelling unless absolutely necessary.”