AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
After five months of tough national lockdown rules, South Africa is to drastically reduce COVID-19 restrictions and allow increased economic and social activity.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country would move to level two under the National State of Disaster, which was declared after the onset of COVID-19. A total of 11 667 South Africans have died from COVID-19.
Ramaphosa said, among others, low infection rates, declining admission to hospitals and the high rate of recoveries has allowed for the lifting of some restrictions from midnight on Monday. This will allow for:
- Alcohol sales. Liquor shops can only sell Monday to Thursday (9am-5pm)
- Tobacco sales
- Inter-provincial travel
- Restaurants, bars and taverns.
- Opening of hospitality venues.
- Family visits in small groups.
- Gyms and health facilities
Ramaphosa said the following COVID-19 restrictions remain in place:
- No international travel.
- Public gatherings – including funerals – will remain restricted to 50 people.
- No spectators at sporting events.
- The 10pm-4am curfew.
Ramaphosa said the restrictions were being lifted because there was evidence that shows that the nationwide lockdown and social distancing measures have been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the lives of South Africans.
The President said: “We are making progress in our fight against COVID-19. Over the last three weeks, the number of new confirmed cases has dropped from a peak of over 12,000 a day to an average over the past week of around 5,000 a day. The recovery rate from coronavirus has risen from 48% at the time of my last address and now stands at 80%.
“The cumulative number of cases in our country remains extremely high at 583,653. However, the number of active cases is declining every day and now stands at around 105,000. The virus appears to have peaked in several provinces, including the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and possibly in KwaZulu-Natal.
Fewer people are presenting with symptoms at our health facilities. We are also finding that fewer people are requiring admission in our hospitals and the demand for coronavirus tests has dropped. The number of patients hospitalised has decreased from 10,000 at the beginning of the month to around 4,000.”
Ramaphosa warned South Africans not to use their new-found freedom to ignore strict health protocols such as the wearing of masks, social distancing and the washing hands. He said it was vital that South Africans continue to observe vital safety precautions on a widespread basis. “In this way, we can ensure that relaxing lockdown restrictions will not cause a surge in new infections,” he said.