Curfew eased, booze back on sale and small gatherings allowed as SA moves to level 3
President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved the country to alert level 3 after a month under level 4 lockdown restrictions.
Interprovincial leisure travel, gatherings and alcohol sales will now be permitted under the eased regulations, which were expected to be gazetted on Sunday and take effect from Monday.
Ramaphosa made the announcement on Sunday night after advice and meetings with the national coronavirus command council, the president's co-ordinating council and cabinet earlier in the day. He said latest indicators suggested that the country had “passed the third wave of Covid-19 infections”.
Under level 4 regulations, all gatherings were banned, except for funerals. Later, in the wake of violent looting, gatherings aimed at easing tensions and reducing violence were allowed.
Now, under level 3, all gatherings are allowed, albeit at limited capacity.
“Attendance at funerals and cremations may not exceed 50 people and all social distancing and health protocols must be observed. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used,” said Ramaphosa.
He said this applied to religious, sporting, social and political gatherings. However, “after tears” events and night vigils continue to be banned.
Alcohol purchases — which were previously prohibited — will now be permitted on weekdays at specified times for off-site consumptions and under licence conditions for on-site consumption.
“The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will be permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 8pm,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said the curfew remained in place, from 10pm to 4am.
The ban on interprovincial leisure travel in and out of Gauteng, due to it being the epicentre of the virus, has now been lifted.
Non-essential establishments such as restaurants, taverns, bars and fitness centres have also been given a greenlight to open.
“These establishments will, however, need to close by 9pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew,” said Ramaphosa.
Although the ban on gatherings has been lifted, Ramaphosa said the limit on venue capacity would apply to restaurants, gyms, fitness centres, bars and other places.
“It remains mandatory for every person to wear a face mask that always covers their nose and mouth at all times when in public spaces. The owners and managers of public buildings, centres, shops, restaurants, taxis and buses all have a responsibility to ensure that people on their premises or in their vehicles wear masks.
“They must also ensure that the appropriate social distancing measures are in place and are adhered to,” he said.
Ramaphosa cautioned that although restrictions had been lifted, the country was not yet out of the woods.
“As we ease restrictions, we must remember that infections remain high and that we need to continue to exercise caution,” he said.
Ramaphosa said: “The latest figures suggest that we have largely passed the peak of the third wave, though there are some areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because the rates of infections have not yet showed signs of decline.”
He said that while the number of infections in Gauteng were declining, there were concerns about increasing infections in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape.
Just before he spoke, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said that there were 9,718 new Covid-19 cases recorded in the past 24 hours. There were also 287 new Covid-19 related fatalities recorded in same period, taking the total death toll to date to 69,775.
Cyril Ramaphosa listed certain measures that will be put in place in order to aide businesses and help rebuild the country on July 25 2021.