President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that lockdown restrictions in South Africa will be relaxed, with the country moving to COVID-19 alert level 1.
In a national address on Sunday 28 February, Ramaphosa announced that the lockdown level of the country will be reduced in line with the decline in COVID-19 cases.
Ramaphosa said the country has now clearly emerged from the second wave of COVID-19.
“This coming Friday will mark exactly one year since the first case of coronavirus was recorded in our country,” Ramaphosa said.
“Since then more than 1.5 million people in SA have been infected and nearly 50,000 of our people have been reported to have died from the disease.”
“In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10,000 new infections,” he said.
“This dramatic decline of cases over 8 weeks is due to a combination of factors, including the public health measures we introduced, changes in behaviour, and accumulating immunity in those that became infected.”
He added that the measures put in place in December were necessary to ameliorate the strain on health services and to save lives.
New lockdown rules
Now that the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to decline, however, it is no longer necessary to have stringent restrictions in place.
As a result of this, lockdown restrictions across the country will be eased, including the following:
- The hours of curfew will now be from 00:00 until 04:00.
- Gatherings will be permitted subject to limitations on size and health protocols, including religious, social, political, and cultural gatherings.
- The maximum number of people allowed for gatherings are 100 people for indoor venues and 250 people for outdoor venues.
- The sale of alcohol will be permitted according to normal licence permissions, but no alcohol may be sold during the hours of curfew.
- The wearing of masks remains compulsory.
- Five airports will be open for international travel: OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, Kruger Mpumalanga, and Lanseria International airports.
- Night vigils or other gatherings before or after funerals remain prohibited.
- Night clubs will remain closed.
The move to level 1 lockdown will be enacted immediately, with the regulations being gazetted on Sunday 28 February, Ramaphosa said.
A new batch of 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived in the country yesterday, Ramaphosa said, adding that the start of the country’s vaccination programme has gone extremely well.
Vaccination sites have been rolled out across the country, and this is set to be expanded in the near future.
“The number of sites that will be available for vaccination will be expanded from 17 to 49 sites, 32 of which will be at public hospitals and 17 in the private hospital sector,” Ramaphosa said.
He said that phase 2 of the vaccination programme will see even more sites rapidly become active across the country to speed the roll-out of the vaccine.
“From a vaccine availability point of view, I’d like to say that we will be secured,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa stressed the importance of continuing to practice prevention measures and social distancing to ensure South Africa can defeat the pandemic and accelerate its economic recovery.