President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa’s adjusted Stage 3 lockdown regulations will be relaxed following a decline in Covid 19 transmission.

In a national address Monday (Feb. 1), the president said the country has recorded its lowest daily increase in infections since December and that the country has now passed the peak of the second wave.

The average number of daily infections has almost halved, while the number of hospitalizations has also dropped, the president said.

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While indicators are pointing in the right direction, Ramaphosa said the number of transmissions in the country is still relatively high.

However, the president acknowledged that the restrictions cannot be maintained longer than necessary, as they are having a damaging effect on the economy.

In this sense, he said that the government will relax the restrictions as follows:

  • Curfew hours will now be from 23:00 – 04:00. Businesses, such as restaurants, will have to close by 22:00 to allow employees and customers to arrive;
  • Religious-themed gatherings will now be allowed, subject to health protocols. This includes a limit of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors;
  • Public places such as beaches and parks will reopen, subject to health protocols;
  • Alcohol sales will be allowed, with off-site sales permitted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On-site sales, such as those at restaurants, are permitted between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. throughout the week;
  • Political, athletic and other gatherings are still not allowed;
  • Funerals may not be attended by more than 50 people;
  • It remains mandatory for every South African to wear a mask in public places.
    “I would like to appeal to all of us to drink responsibly so that there is not an increase in trauma cases or infections due to reckless behaviour. If we relax the restrictions again, the responsibility for each of us as individuals will become even greater,” the president said.
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“We must remember that despite the significant progress we’ve made, the number of new cases is still high and the risk of recurrence is ever-present.”

COVID-19 Vaccines

The relaxed restrictions come after South Africa received its first shipment of one million Covid-19 vaccines on Monday afternoon.

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Those vaccines will now be tested for integrity after travelling from India and then distributed to the country’s health care providers as part of the Phase 1 rollout.

They will then be distributed to the country’s health care providers as part of Phase 1. The country will then move to Phase 2 of the rollout, which will include key workers, the elderly, and people with comorbidities. This will be expanded to all adult South Africans in Phase 3.

An online registration system will allow South Africans to book a spot at a local immunization center once they qualify, Ramaphosa said. The president confirmed that another 500,000 vaccines will arrive in late February, also from India.

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He confirmed that an additional nine million vaccines have been purchased through Johnson & Johnson and another 20 million through Pfizer. These vaccines will not be available until the second quarter of 2021, the president said.

The president said the country will reach herd immunity when 67% of the population is vaccinated. That equates to about 40 million South Africans.

No one will be forced to take the vaccine or prohibited from traveling anywhere or participating in any activity if they are not vaccinated, he said.

“We all want to be free of this disease. We all want to be safe, and for those we love to be safe. Our goal is to make the vaccine available to all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residency status,” the president said.