South Africa is returning to a lighter level of lockdown with the current third wave of COVID-19 infections finally showing signs of slowing. New lockdown regulations were announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during an address to the nation on Sunday.
In the final days of June, Ramaphosa announced that the country would re-enter Adjusted Alert Level 4 in order to combat the spread of the highly infections COVID-19 Delta variant that had brought India to its knees not a month prior.
The Level 4 restrictions included a blanket ban on the sales of alcohol, the banning of most social gatherings and prohibitions on travel in and out of Gauteng, the third wave’s epicentre.
New regulations for couriers and delivery personnel were also introduced.
However as of midnight today, South Africa has moved into Adjusted Alert Level 3.
“The latest figures suggest that we have largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections, although there are areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because the rates of infection have not yet shown signs of decline,” explained the President.
Ramaphosa says that the decision to ease the lockdown comes amid a drop in COVID-19 cases, test positivity rates and hospitalisations, especially in Gauteng. The province has been the driving force behind the third wave, and while Gauteng is still recording high numbers of daily infections its active caseload has effectively been halved.
“As infections in Gauteng fall, daily new infections in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal continue to rise,” the President warned, saying that citizens still need to exercise caution.
New regulations for South Africa’s Adjusted Alert Level 3:
New Curfew Hours
Curfew hours have been extended. Currently, curfew will begin at 22:00 and end at 04:00.
This means that non-essential businesses and establishments must close by 21:00 in order to give time for employees to make it home before curfew.
Social Gatherings Allowed
Social gatherings are again allowed but with limits of up to 50 people indoors and up to 100 outdoors. All religious, social, political and cultural gatherings are included in this limit.
Funeral attendance is still capped at 50 individuals and night vigils and after-funeral gatherings are still banned.
Alcohol Sales Unbanned
Sales of alcohol products for on-site and off-site consumption are once again allowed.
However, licensed off-site retailers like bottle stores and supermarkets can only sell liquor between 10:00 and 18:00 from Monday to Thursday. No weekend sales are permitted from off-site retailers.
On-site retailers, bars and restaurants, can sell liquor up until 20:00.
Gauteng Province Reopens for Leisure Travel
Leisure travel in and out of Gauteng is once again permitted.
Latest COVID-19 Stats in SA
The cumulative number (all time) of COVID-19 cases is 2,377,823, with the majority of new cases from Gauteng, 2674 reported new cases, followed by the Western Cape with 2444 new cases.
The death toll sits at 69,775, after 287 new deaths.
The total number of vaccinations is 6,384,382, with 27,053 new vaccinations administered in the past 24 hours.
By Luis Monzon
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