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Health Minister Joe Phaahla said South Africa was seeing a drop in the third wave of its Covid-19 cases, and that the government is now considering further easing the lockdown restrictions.
Speaking to the media on Friday (September 17), Phaahla said that compared to the previous seven days, the total number of new Covid-19 cases is now down 35%. The country’s positivity rate also fell to an average of 9.3%, he said.
These data show South Africa is now close to the World Health Organization metric for a “stable” infection rate of 5%, and further easing of restrictions could affect cards as citizens have shown they are complying with regulations, he said.
“If we continue to adhere to personal health and safety measures, further relaxations will be underway. We will report to the National Coronavirus Command Council in two weeks, and if there continues to be good cooperation, the (rules) will be relaxed. “
Phaahla said some of the relaxed restrictions could include:
- An evening curfew at midnight;
- Alcohol would be permitted to be sold for off-site consumption on a Saturday;
- More leisure activities will be allowed to reopen.
President Cyril Ramaphosa moved South Africa to an adjusted Level 2 lockdown on Monday (September 13), as a sustained decline in infections has been seen over the past two weeks.
The updated restrictions include:
- Curfew hours are from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Non-essential establishments such as bars and gyms must close at 10 p.m. to allow staff to return home.
- All gatherings are limited to 250 people indoors, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 500 people. When the venue is too small to accommodate this number of people, then no more than 50% of the floor space can be used.
- The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is permitted from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Alcohol consumption on site is subject to authorization until 10 p.m. Funerals remain limited to a maximum of 50 people and, as before, night vigils, gatherings after funerals and “after tears” gatherings are not permitted.
Ramaphosa said those restrictions will be reviewed in two weeks. The government will also present its plan for vaccine passports at this time so that people can attend sporting and other events, he said.
The president warned that existing regulations remain in place – including mandatory masks, social distancing and a ban on gatherings after funerals.
“It is a criminal offense not to do so, and store and restaurant managers, as well as taxi and bus drivers, have a responsibility to ensure that their customers wear masks and that appropriate social distancing is in place. “