President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country is moving to Level 1 as of midnight on Sunday.
“It is time to move to what we call our new normal. Following consultations with various stakeholders the country will move to alert level 1 effective from midnight on Sunday,” said Ramaphosa.
In his address to the nation on developments in South Africa’s risk-adjusted response to the Covid-19 pandemic on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa announced the following easing of restrictions in Level 1:
- The number of indoor gatherings has been raised to 250 people, while outdoor gatherings will now allow 500 people.
- Guests allowed at funerals have been increased to 100, while night vigils are still not allowed.
- Venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment will now be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of the venue’s capacity, subject to social distancing and other health protocols.
- The sale of alcohol is now permitted from 9am to 5pm as from this coming Monday for home consumption.
- International travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other travel will be allowed with effect from 1 October 2020
- Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.
- South African missions abroad will open for visa applications and all long-term visas will be reinstated
- The curfew will now apply between midnight and 4am.
- The sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption is now permitted from Monday to Friday, from 09h00 to 17h00.
- Alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only and with strict adherence to the curfew.
Travellers will only be allowed to use one of the border posts that remained operational during the lockdown or one of the three main airports: King Shaka, OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport.
They will be required to present a negative test result not done more than 72 hours prior or be subjected to mandatory quarantine.
Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that have high infection rates, said Ramaphosa, adding a list of countries would be published based on the latest scientific data.
Also read: Approach Level 1 with caution – Experts
‘Over the worst’
Ramaphosa said the country had made enough progress to move to “the new normal” which will ease a number of restrictions, while other restrictions remain.
More than 15,000 people have died, and more than 650,000 people have been infected, while the country now records 2,000 new cases on average a day. The recovery rate now stands at 89%.
“We have succeeded in overcoming the worst time of this pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) continues to advise South Africa on how to better deal with the virus and how to effectively reopen the country.
“Although we have made a remarkable progress, people are still getting infected. Our greatest challenge and most important task is to make sure we do not experience a second wave, like other countries.
“We want to avoid this. Some of these countries had even reopened its businesses and had to reimpose a hard lockdown to deal with the resurgence of the virus.”
Testing will be increased, as will the scope of testing, which will now include all those who are admitted to hospital, outpatients with Covid-19 symptoms, and individuals who have been in close contact with confirmed cases whether or not they themselves have symptoms.
Government will also be improving contact tracing, including the use of the COVID Alert South Africa mobile phone app, which alerts any user if they have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.
“Contact tracing is an important preventative measure to help curb the spread of Covid-19.”
“To ensure that South Africa is able to access an effective vaccine as quickly as possible and in sufficient quantities to protect the population, the country is participating in a global initiative supported by the World Health Organisation to pool resources for the development and distribution of a vaccine.
“Through this initiative, South Africa joins other countries in supporting several vaccine development programmes and seeking equitable access to successful vaccines at a lower cost.”
On a lighter note, the president further encouraged South Africans to celebrate Heritage Day with the Jerusalema Challenge.
“I urge everyone to use this public holiday as family time, to reflect on the difficult journey we have all travelled, to remember those who have lost their lives, and to quietly rejoice in the remarkable and diverse heritage of our nation.”
You can read the President’s full speech here.