Yesterday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would move to adjusted alert level 1 as of 1 October 2021, meaning a host of lockdown regulations would be relaxed as the country enjoys the lowest level of lockdown since March 2021.
During the national address Thursday evening, Ramaphosa said that SA is making progress in its fight against COVID-19 and that the country has officially exited the third wave of infections. The third wave was the largest and longest wave of infections recorded in the country to date, seeing a peak of 20,000 new cases a day and lasting more than 130 days.
“In the last seven days, the average number of new cases was at around 1,800 a day. There are also sustained decreases in COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths in all provinces. This is news that is welcome to all of us,” the president said.
Ramaphosa continued to say that the freedoms South Africans yearn for are in reach, but will only be possible if more people are vaccinated and continue to follow lockdown procedures.
Adjusted lockdown level 1 comes with a host of newly relaxed restrictions, namely:
- Curfew hours have been extended – running from 00:00 to 04:00.
- Non-essential establishments like restaurants and bars will now need to close by 23:00 to allow employees and patrons enough time to get home before curfew.
- The number of people allowed to attend indoor gatherings sees a large increase from 250 to 750 people. The permittable size of outdoor gatherings also increases from 500 to 2000 people.
- If a venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with proper social distances, then no more than 50% of the venue’s total capacity may be used.
- The sale of alcohol is now permitted according to normal licensing provisions – from Monday to Sunday – but no alcohol may be sold past 23:00.
- The number of people that can attend funerals has also increased to a maximum of 100 people.
Ramaphosa also indicated that the government is in consideration to further relax restrictions around sporting and cultural events, with an announcement expected to be made on the matter at a later date.
There are some restrictions, however, that are still in place, including:
- Alcohol consumption is not permitted in public spaces.
- Funeral services have a two-hour limit, and no night vigils or post-funeral gatherings are permitted.
- Social distancing must still be observed of at least 1.5 meters.
- Wearing masks in public is still mandatory.