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On Sunday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving to alert Level 1…

It’s been almost a year since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country. While South Africans have moved from hard lockdown at the peak of the pandemic, and have battled through the second wave, over 50,000 have been reported to have died from the virus.

Over 1.5 million people have been infected. However, following the second wave, infections have dropped dramatically, and some more hope is on the horizon as the vaccine distribution has begun.

On Sunday night, the President announced that a further 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived in the country on Saturday. Over 67,000 health workers – who are on the frontline of our fight against COVID-19 – have been vaccinated.

“Once the vaccination of healthcare workers has been completed, we will begin with phase two of the vaccine roll-out in late April or early May,” said the President. “Phase two will include the elderly, essential workers, persons living or working in institutional settings and those with co-morbidities.”

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The President announced the move to Level 1:

“Based on an assessment of the current state of the pandemic in the country, Cabinet decided earlier today to move the country from Coronavirus Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 1.”

“The new alert level will come into effect later this evening once the regulations have been gazetted.”

This will mean that:

  • The hours of the curfew will now be from 12 midnight to 4am
  • Gatherings will be permitted, subject to limitations on size, adherence to social distancing and other health protocols. These include religious, social, political and cultural gatherings
  • The maximum number of people allowed at any gathering is 100 people indoors or 250 people outdoor
  • Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used
  • The sale of alcohol will be permitted, according to normal licence provisions. However, no alcohol may be sold during the hours of curfew
  • The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, and failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence

Still restricted:

  • Night vigils or other gatherings before or after funerals are still not permitted
  • Nightclubs will remain closed

In terms of travel:

  • The 33 land border posts that have been closed throughout this period will remain closed, while the other 20 will remain open.
  • Only five airports will be open for international travel with standard infection control measures. These are OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, Kruger Mpumalanga and Lanseria airports.

“The few remaining restrictions under Alert Level 1 are meant to maintain low levels of infections and, in particular, to prevent super-spreading events,” said the President.

Beware of a third wave

While the restrictions are easing up, the President warned residents to behave responsibly in order to prevent a third wave of the pandemic.

“The threat of a third wave is constantly present, as is the threat of yet more new variants. As we witnessed last year, our actions as individuals and as a collective will determine whether and how soon we experience a resurgence of the virus.”

“In the meantime, the virus continues to circulate in our families, our workplaces and our communities. As our vaccination campaign gathers pace, we must continue to exercise extreme caution to protect ourselves and others.”

Hope for the future

“This pandemic has taken much from us, but it has not taken our strength, our courage or our sense of solidarity as a people,” encouraged the President. “It has not dampened our spirit or weakened our resolve. Our uniquely South African spirit has allowed us to remain steadfast in the face of an unprecedented threat, and which will continue to inspire us as we chart a path to recovery.”

“Let us remain united, hopeful and determined as ever to face down this challenge. May God continue to bless South Africa and protect her people.”

 

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