President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday evening announced the substantial relaxing of lockdown regulations under alert level 1.
The president announced that from midnight on Sunday, movements on social and economic activities would be eased.
to alert level 1
The country has been in different stages of lockdown for almost six months now in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has infected more than 650,000 South Africans and claimed over 15,000 lives.
But Ramaphosa said with a slowdown in the infection rate and the recovery rate increasing to 89%, the country was ready to move to the next phase.
“Now is the time to return our country, its people, and our economy to a situation that is more normal, that more resembles the lives that we were living six months ago,” he said. “It is time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us.”
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The president has increased the people allowed to convene at venues at once.
“Social, religious, political, and other gatherings will be permitted, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue, up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings,” Ramaphosa said.
“Health protocols, such as washing or sanitising of hands, social distancing and mask-wearing, will need to be strictly observed,” he added.
While funerals would be getting bigger and the curfew was moved later, night vigils remained forbidden.
“The maximum number of people who may attend a funeral is increased from 50 to 100 due to the higher risk of viral transmission at funerals. Night vigils are still not permitted,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also made a slight change to alcohol sales.
“The sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption is now permitted from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. Alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only and with strict adherence to the curfew,” he said.
The president implored all South Africans to download the free COVID-19 app, which alerts users if they have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks.
Adjustments were made to the Loan Guarantee Scheme to make it easier for companies of any size to access credit at low-interest rates, with repayments delayed for as much as 12 months.