South Africa moves back to adjusted level 3, schools to reopen on Monday

South Africa begins the week on a high note as it moves back to adjusted level three. Schools reopen, people as young as 18 can register to be vaccinated and the alcohol ban has been partially lifted.

However, recent civil unrest and its human and financial toll weigh heavily on the country as it moves through its third wave of Covid-19 infections. 

Announcing the new measures, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on Sunday 25 July in a televised broadcast that the country is fighting two battles. 

“The first against the deadly coronavirus. The second is against the actions of those who created instability and chaos in our country. We have marshalled all our resources to restore stability and order in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” he said. 

Ramaphosa announced a range of measures the government will implement to provide support for local businesses that were damaged during the civil unrest, but also to those affected by the lockdown restrictions. 

The monthly social relief distress grant of R350 has been reinstated and will remain in place until March 2022. 

“We are expanding the number of people who are eligible for this grant by allowing unemployed caregivers who currently receive a child support grant to apply,” Ramaphosa said. 

In addition to Covid-19 support, businesses that recorded major damage as a result of the recent unrest will receive support from the Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria) — a non-life insurer that provides special risk cover to all individuals and businesses that own assets in South Africa. 

Ramaphosa said: “We are one of the few countries in the world to have a state-owned insurance company, Sasria, which provides cover against incidents of public violence, strikes, riots and unrest. Businesses that are insured will be covered by Sasria.”

Addressing the first battle, that of Covid-19, the president said the country has “largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections”. But concerns remain for provinces such as the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape, which showed an increase in new daily infections. 

“The measures we put in place for the past 28 days, alongside the continued adherence of South Africans to basic health precautions have been effective in reducing the rate of infection, the average number of daily new infections over the last week was around 12,000 new infections a day, which represents a 20% drop from the previous week.”

An overall decline in new infections led to the country’s move to an adjusted level three, which include the following:

  • Schools will reopen on Monday 26 July.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga gave her assurance at the weekend that schools were ready to reopen and that school management teams and support staff had already gone back to work from Thursday, 22 July, to prepare for the return of learners and teachers . 

  • Curfew starts at 10pm and ends at 4pm
  • Interprovincial travel for leisure is allowed
  • Religious services, political events and social gatherings are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. These limits also apply to restaurants and gyms. 
  • Attendance at funerals may not exceed 50 people and night vigils remain prohibited
  • The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is permitted from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Thursday. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption are permitted up to 8pm.

On the vaccination front, people between the ages of 18 and 34 can be vaccinated from 1 September. 

Ramaphosa explained this increase in capacity was made possible by improvements in the vaccine supply chain as the country expects nearly 31-million additional Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines in the following three months. 

“We are now administering more than 240 000 vaccines every weekday. As a result, we have now administered more than 6.3-million vaccines, with over 10% of our population having received a vaccine dose. In the coming weeks, we will substantially increase the rate of vaccination,” the president said.

Addressing the second battle — that of the scourge of violent protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng — Ramaphosa said: “We are still counting the cost of this violence, and coming to terms with the destruction that it left in its wake.”

“To ensure that order and stability are maintained, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and

Gauteng, we have increased the deployment of SAPS (the South African Police Service) and SANDF (South African National Defence Force) personnel,” he said, adding that deployment at potential hotspots and key economic and government infrastructure remain effective. 

​​He said that there would be further arrests, “particularly of those who conceptualised, planned and executed these actions that have led to so much destruction and loss of life”.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

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