The curfew may be lifted but we're still in a pandemic state of disaster

State of disaster to remain in place

31 December 2021 - 12:14
Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said the state of disaster needs to remain in place despite the curfew being lifted.
Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said the state of disaster needs to remain in place despite the curfew being lifted.
Image: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Despite the Covid-19 curfew being lifted on Thursday, minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele says the state of disaster will remain in place.

Gungubele was speaking at a virtual briefing to media on Friday.

“Cabinet intended to lift the curfew, our hope is that the curfew should stay lifted. The biggest challenge is in balancing the livelihood of the country and saving lives.

“According to experts, the Omicron wave has reached its peak and clinical manifestation has not caused any alarm in hospitals, so conditions allow that we lift curfew.

“The economy is struggling and we wish to use every opportunity to open up the economy. We hope it [won't have to be imposed again] but we will monitor the situation.”

Gungubele said government had been approached by business people lamenting how their businesses had been affected by the midnight curfew. 

“Government doesn't like the state of disaster, but circumstances dictate that it should remain.

“It is a tool to use in case of an unplanned situation. The danger [dictates] that we should not do away with the state of disaster, as it allows us to intervene [when an emergency calls for it].

“We can't just remove it — we pray every day that the situation arrives to do away with it.”

On Thursday the presidency announced that the curfew would be lifted with immediate effect. 

It said the risk of Covid-19 infections, driven by the Omicron variant, remain high and wearing face masks remains mandatory.

The cabinet decided to make these changes to adjusted alert level 1:

  • The curfew is lifted. There will be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people.
  • Gatherings are restricted to no more than 1,000 people indoors and no more than 2,000 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used. All other restrictions remain in place.

“The risk of increase in infections is still high given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant. Government calls on all organisers of gatherings to ensure that all health protocols are observed and that attendees are encouraged to be vaccinated,” the presidency said.



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