South Africans can enjoy the long weekend with only slight adjustments, as the country remains on level one lockdown. Interprovincial travel remains permitted, and off-site alcohol sales will be banned for only four days.
When he addressed the country on Tuesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa noted that many South Africans have made plans for the upcoming long weekend. “However, I urge all South Africans to limit their travel as much as possible and to observe all the necessary health protocols if they cannot avoid travelling,” the president said.
“While the rate of transmissions remains stable, we cannot let our guard down. This is a time when caution is needed more than ever,” Ramaphosa continued. “The reality is that a greater movement of people, interprovincial travel, greater use of public transit and gatherings present a great risk of an increase in infections.”
That said, the president announced less stringent restrictions for some sectors than unverified reports had suggested might be the case.
“With the relatively low transmission levels, we have decided to keep the country on coronavirus alert level one. However, due to the specific circumstances of this period, we need to make a few adjustments,” Ramaphosa said.
The major adjustments the president announced are the following:
- The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited from Friday 2 April to Monday 5 April; however, on-site alcohol sales at restaurants, shebeens and bars will be allowed until 11pm.
- Religious gatherings are restricted to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors. This is an increase from the previous numbers allowed, and will be in force for Easter, Passover and during Ramadan.
- However, congregants are not allowed to gather outside their usual places of worship, and people must go home and not sleep over after services.
The following activities remain permitted:
- Interprovincial travel is allowed;
- The curfew remains, from midnight to 4am;
- Public recreational spaces such as beaches, parks, and dams remain open; and
- Funerals remain limited to only 100 people, and are subject to a time frame of two hours.
The measures put in place for religious gatherings will be reviewed “within the next 15 days based on an assessment on the state of the pandemic and the extent of compliance with health protocols”, Ramaphosa said.
In formulating the adjustments to the regulations for the long weekend, the government held consultations with experts, representatives of provincial and local governments, and traditional leaders about what measures should be put in place.
South Africa has recorded just more than 1.5-million infections since March 2020, and the fatality rate is still climbing. As of the beginning of this week, 52 710 people in the country had died from Covid-19.