Western Cape premier Alan Winde says South Africa is now at a point where it can end all Covid-19 restrictions on mask-wearing and gatherings.
In a media briefing on Tuesday (7 June), Winde said he had sent an official letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa calling for an urgent President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) meeting to discuss the changes.
“In practice, this means that we need to allow congregations, convention centres, stadiums, and other economic hubs to operate at full capacity once again while we continue to safely navigate life. By doing away with these restrictions, we will enable businesses to operate at full capacity and grow,” he said.
“Residents should be allowed to practice the necessary behaviours that they deem fit and that they have learnt throughout the pandemic, to protect themselves and those around them.”
Winde said this change can be made as there has been a continued decoupling between Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. The clearest indicator of this is that in the Western Cape there has been a reduction in severe disease during the current resurgence and the fourth wave, compared to earlier waves, he said.
While the Western Cape briefly met the previous technical definition of a wave on 11 May 2022 – these cases stayed at this level for just two weeks and did not increase beyond 1200 new cases a day. As such, the National Department of Health did not declare the recent resurgence as a wave.
“The recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey has demonstrated that our country’s unemployment rate has reached a crisis level and needs to be addressed with the same urgency that we showed when confronting Covid-19.
“It is for this reason, based on clear data in support of this call, that I call for the lifting of all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, and for this to urgently be done. Mr President, it is a time that you call for an urgent PCC.”
While South Africa has ended its national state of disaster, a number of regulations remain on gatherings and mask-wearing.
The current regulations, introduced at the start of May, include the following:
Some of the key regulations around masks which remain in effect include:
- The wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in an indoor public place – including public transport.
- The health minister has the power to lift regulations around masks when he deems they are no longer necessary.
All gatherings are permitted at 50% of the venue capacity:
- Provided persons are fully vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination certificate; or
- Unvaccinated but in possession of a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of the gathering,.
Alternatively, gatherings are permitted for the unvaccinated and those without tests, but are limited to 1,000 persons or fewer for indoor venues and 2,000 persons or fewer for outdoor venues.
If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least one metre from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.
Travel into South Africa is permitted provided:
- Fully vaccinated people must, upon arrival at the land border, produce a valid vaccination certificate; and
- Unvaccinated people must, upon arrival, provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 test, recognised by the World Health Organisation, which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel. They may also produce a negative antigen test provided it was not taken 48 hours before travel, or a certificate showing they have tested positive for Covid within the last 90 days.