President Cyril Ramaphosa said all indicators suggest South Africa may have passed the peak of the fourth wave, and thus lifted the Covid-19 curfew ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The decision to suspend the curfew was made during a sitting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) on Thursday.
The council also agreed to ease adjusted level one lockdown restrictions based on the trajectory of the pandemic, the levels of vaccination, and the available capacity within the health sector.
The NCCC will continue to “closely monitor the situation and will make further adjustments as necessary, particularly if pressure on health facilities increases”.
Here’s how Cabinet amended the restrictions, and how it will affect your New Year’s Eve party plans.
New Year’s Eve 2021
Level 1 restricted eased
Other than the curfew being lifted with immediate effect on Thursday, 30 December, changes were made to large in- and outdoor gatherings.
“There will be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people”, Ramaphosa said.
He said “vaccination remains the best defence against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from Covid-19”, and called on everyone who has not yet done so to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Are gatherings allowed?
President Ramaphosa eased the restrictions on gatherings as well. Indoor gatherings will now be limited to 1,000 people, while 2,000 will be permitted to gather outdoors.
That said, the standard Covid-19 safety protocols still apply: Wash your hands, sanitise, wear your mask, and keep a safe distance.
Where the venue is too small to accommodate the adjusted numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.
Stay safe, get vaxxed
Despite the ease of restrictions on gatherings, organisers are tasked to ensure all health protocols are observed at all times
It’s a criminal offence to appear in public spaces without a mask. Furthermore, Ramaphosa also called on organisers to encourage attendees to be vaccinated.
Don’t forget: the risk of an increase in infections remain high, especially given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
May I buy alcohol?
Yes, the sale of alcohol for offsite and onsite consumption is permitted at all establishments with licences to operate after 11pm.
Ramaphosa said such establishments will revert back to full licence conditions.
The National Liquor Traders (NLT) said the decision will allow for the alcohol industry to recover from the losses brought on by the previous alcohol bans.