President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa will move to an adjusted level 4 lockdown as the country struggles against the third wave of Covid-19 infections.
In a national address on Sunday evening (27 June), Ramaphosa said that the restrictions were necessary to curb the high rate of infections and relieve pressure on the healthcare sector.
The president said that ICU measures are in short supply and that it is clear that existing containment measures are not sufficient.
To address these issues, the president said that the following new restrictions will be introduced:
- All indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited. This includes religious and social gatherings;
- Funerals and cremations are permitted but attendance may not exceed 50 people;
- Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings are not allowed;
- Public spaces such as beaches and parks will remain open, but no gatherings are permitted;
- The new curfew times are 21h00 – 04h00;
- The sale of alcohol is prohibited;
- Travel in and out of Gauteng is prohibited for leisure purposes. People will be permitted to return home to the province if they are currently outside the borders;
- Visits to old age homes and care facilities will be restricted;
- Restaurants will only be able to sell food for takeaway and deliveries;
- The closure of schools for the winter holidays will be brought forward. Schools will close from (30 June) and all schools will be expected to be closed by Friday.
- All contact classes at universities and other tertiary facilities will stop on Wednesday.
The restrictions will remain in place for 14 days Ramaphosa said, and will be assessed thereafter. They take effect on Monday, 28 June, and will run until 11 July.
Ramaphosa said that the situation has deteriorated since the country moved to a level 3 lockdown 12 days ago, with the latest surge caused by the Delta variant, first discovered in India.
The variant has been discovered in five provinces and is rapidly supplanting the Beta variant which has been the dominant variant in South Africa, he said.
The president said that the Delta variant is thought to be twice as contagious as other variants – which leads to significantly more infections.
There is also emerging scientific evidence that people who have previously contracted the Beta variant can still contract the Delta variant, he said.
Ramaphosa said that the country’s existing lockdown regulations have also proven less impactful compared to the Beta variant.
South Africans have grown complacent in following regulations, which has also led to an increase in cases.
South Africa reported 15,036 new cases on Sunday, taking the total number of active cases to 158,998. Gauteng has reported more than 60% of these cases, with numbers rising rapidly in all other provinces.
A further 122 deaths were reported, taking the total to 59,900. The recovery rate is 88.7%.
Ramaphosa said that this third wave could last longer than the first two waves, which lasted for 15 weeks and nine weeks respectively.