President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country will be moved to alert Level 1 of the lockdown, as of midnight on 20th September 2020. Ramaphosa made the announcement on Wednesday night, while addressing the nation on progress in the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president said the move is influenced by a number of factors, including a need to open the economy and the recent decrease in the number of COVID-19 infections, with a recovery rate of 89%.
“Following consultations with provincial and local government representatives, and drawing on the advice of scientists and engagements with various stakeholders, Cabinet decided this morning (Wednesday) that the country should move to alert level 1. The move to alert level 1 will take effect from midnight on Sunday 20 September 2020. This move recognises that levels of infection are relatively low and that there is sufficient capacity in our health system to manage the current need,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said level 1 will see a further easing of restrictions on the gatherings and appealed to the nation to continue taking health and safety measures such as washing or sanitising hands, social distancing and wearing face masks in public places at all times.
“The new restrictions will see social, religious, political and other gatherings allowed to accommodate up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings. The number of people allowed to attend a funeral has been increased from 50 to 100, however, night vigils are still not permitted. Venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment which were limited to no more than 50 people, will now be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their venue’s capacity as determined by available floor space, subject to social distancing and other health protocols,” said the president.
He said South Africa is participating in three global COVID-19 vaccine trials that are supported by the World Health Organisation. Ramaphosa stressed that in his capacity as both the president and Chairperson of the African Union, “he has advocated for equitable access to the vaccine, and that no country should be left behind when a vaccine is found.”
In order to boost the economy, restrictions on leisure and international travel have been eased with effect from 1 October 2020.
“Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. A list of countries will be published based on the latest scientific data. Travellers will only be able to use one of the land border posts that have remained operational during the lockdown or one of the three main airports: King Shaka, OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport. On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure,” highlighted Ramaphosa.
The president said to help in this regard, South African missions abroad will be open for visa applications and all long-term visas will be reinstated
“We are ready to open our doors again to the world and invite travellers to enjoy our mountains, our beaches, our vibrant cities and our wildlife game parks in safety and confidence," he said.
Level 1 will also see curfew hours now applying between midnight and 4am, the sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption is now permitted from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and alcohol is now permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only and with strict adherence to the curfew.
Ramaphosa assured the nation that government is determined to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide, and has increased support services for survivors of this violence.
On the COVID-19 related corruption the president said law enforcement agencies are "making important progress in investigating all allegations of the misuse of COVID-related funds. The Special Investigating Unit has submitted its first interim report to me, detailing the progress of its investigations in all provinces and in some national departments and entities.”