Local residents wearing protective face masks wait at a bus stop in the Imizamo Yethu township area of Hout Bay, in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday, July 24, 2020. South Africas surging coronavirus infections and the resumption of rolling blackouts are clouding the outlook for the economy. Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Covid-19 lockdown regulations will be eased from Monday 13 September as the country moves to adjusted level 2, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday.
Following a decline in infections, the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 recommended the lockdown level be adjusted.
“The average number of daily infections over the last two weeks is 29% lower than the preceding seven days and 48% lower than the seven days before that,” Ramaphosa said, emphasising that the third wave is not yet over.
While the Northern Cape and the Free State are provinces of concern, all provinces show a downward trend in new cases. In the two provinces of concern, the number of infections remains relatively high in proportion to the population.
Ramaposa said efforts were being made to determine the driving forces behind the relatively high infection rate in the two provinces.
Considering the lower infection rate, however, the following adjustments have been made:
- Curfew is now from 11pm until 4am. Non-essential establishments — restaurants, bars and fitness centres — must close at 10pm.
- Gatherings are limited to 250 people indoors, adjusted from only 50 people previously. Outside gatherings are limited to 500 people where before only 100 were allowed. Smaller venues are limited to 50% of their capacity to maintain proper social distancing.
- The sale of alcohol at retail stores for offsite consumption is permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Friday. On-site alcohol consumption is now allowed until 10pm and throughout weekends as well.
Some restrictions, such as mask-wearing in public places, remain mandatory. Funerals continue to be limited to a maximum of 50 people while night vigils, or after tears, remain prohibited.
These adjusted measures will be reviewed in two weeks’ time, Ramaphosa said.
The president urged South Africans to vaccinate against Covid-19.
He said the government had secured enough doses to vaccinate “the entire adult population” and that the supply of vaccines was no longer a constraint.
“Over 57% of persons over 60 years of age have been vaccinated. This is a great achievement. But we need to reach them all,” said Ramaphosa.
He said that the benefit of everyone being vaccinated is that the economy would be able to return to “full operation and create the jobs that our country needs”.
“The sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can open up sports venues to spectators; the sooner we can welcome tourists to our beautiful country; the sooner we can meet with friends and family.”
The health department is considering “a variety of mechanisms” to issue vaccine passports, Ramaphosa added. A vaccine passport will act as evidence that a person has received a vaccination and allow the passport holder to attend events only open to vaccinated people.
The Mail & Guardian reported last week that, by the end of September, South Africans who have been vaccinated will be issued with a digital certificate to prove they have been vaccinated
The department of health told the M&G that discussions to create a digital vaccine certificate are at an advanced stage for those who have been vaccinated. This is likely to open doors that could remain closed for the unvaccinated.
As of Sunday 12 September, more than 3 900 new Covid-19 infections were reported throughout the country, whereas a week ago just over 5 900 new infections were confirmed.
To date 2 858 195 coronavirus cases have been recorded since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. More than 2.6-million South Africans recovered, while 84 877 people succumbed to the virus and died.