South Africa goes to lockdown level 3 — alcohol unbanned

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that South Africa would return to adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations, relaxing the ban on alcohol and reducing the hours of curfew.

Alcohol will be allowed for off-site purchase between 10:00 to 18:00 from Monday to Thursday. On-site consumption of alcohol will be permitted according to license conditions until 20:00.

Duty-free shops in the international departures area of South African airports will be allowed to sell alcohol without restrictions.

Schools will reopen tomorrow according to strict health protocols to be announced by the Minister of Basic Education.

The curfew will be extended by an hour to between 22:00 and 04:00.

Public gatherings will be allowed but limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, and employers must continue to encourage working from home where possible. This includes social gatherings, political events, and religious gatherings.

Where venues are too small to accommodate these numbers without adhering to social distancing regulations, they may only admit up to 50% of their capacity.

Non-essential facilities like restaurants, bars, and fitness centres will need to close at 21:00 to allow staff to return home before curfew. Nightclubs must remain closed.

Attendance at funerals and cremations may not exceed 50 people and all safety and health protocols must be observed.

These changes will come into effect as soon as they are gazetted later tonight.

“In other words, they are with immediate effect,” Ramaphosa stated.

The reduction of the Covid-19 Alert Level in South Africa comes as the country crested the peak of its third wave.

CSIR researcher Ridwhaan Suliman noted that over the past week the average number of daily new Covid-19 cases declined by 19%, the average number of tests conducted declined by 9%, the test positivity rate declined by 11%, and hospitalisations declined by 7%.

The number of Covid-19 related deaths being reported continued to increase this week (11%), but Suliman explained that this is because deaths tend to lag new cases.

While the data indicates that South Africa has reached the peak of its third wave, experts warned that the effects of widespread looting and public violence in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng earlier this month may cause a sudden increase in Covid-19 cases.

If the civil unrest did cause a “superspreader event”, its effects will only begin to reflect in the data from this week.

The National Insititute of Communicable Diseases reported that 9,718 new Covid-19 cases were identified in South Africa yesterday, at a test positivity rate of 26.6%.

According to the National Department of Health, a further 287 Covid-19 related deaths were reported, bringing total fatalities to 69,775.

There has been an increase of 366 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours. The NICD reported that there is currently a total of 16,539 people hospitalised as a result of Covid-19 in South Africa.

A total of 20,392 vaccines were administered in South Africa in the last 24 hours, bringing the total vaccines administered to just under 6.4 million.

Ramaphosa announced that people between the ages of 18 to 34 will be allowed to receive their vaccines from 1 September.

He also announced that those eligible for vaccines will be able to walk into a vaccination centre and be registered, making it easier for people who can’t use the online Electronic Vaccination Data System to receive their shots.

Now read: Good news about South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout

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South Africa goes to lockdown level 3 — alcohol unbanned