Addressing the nation on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the average rate of new infections has been steadily coming down over the last three weeks, indicating that the country has now passed the peak of the second wave.
“We are acutely aware that these restrictions have negatively affected businesses and threatened jobs in the hospitality, tourism and related industries.
“That is why we are determined that such restrictions should not continue any longer than is absolutely necessary to contain the pandemic and minimise the loss of life,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President’s address on developments in relation to the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic follows meetings in recent days of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) and Cabinet.
Hours of curfew
“The hours of the curfew will now be from 11pm to 4am. Establishments will need to close by 10pm to allow their customers and staff to return home by curfew.
“Faith-based gatherings will be permitted, subject to health protocols. Such gatherings may not exceed 50 people for indoor venues and 100 persons for outdoor venues,” the President said.
Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used.
Public places such as beaches, dams, rivers, parks and public swimming pools will be reopened subject to health protocols.
While restrictions on the sale of alcohol will be eased, the President has called on South Africans to drink responsibly so that the country does not experience a spike in trauma cases or an increase in infections due to reckless behaviour.
“As we ease restrictions once again, the responsibility on each and every one of us as individuals becomes even greater.
“Let us remember that despite the clear progress we have made, the number of new cases is still high and there is an ever-present danger of a resurgence,” President Ramaphosa said.
The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for off-site consumption will be permitted from Mondays to Thursdays, from 10am to 6pm.
“Duty-free shops, registered wineries, wine farms, micro-breweries and micro-distilleries will be able to sell alcohol for off-site consumption during their normal licensed operating hours.
“The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for on-site consumption – such as restaurants and taverns – will be permitted throughout the week from 10am to 10pm,” the President said.
Several restrictions remain in place
As there is still a continued high risk of transmission, several prevention measures will remain in place.
“Social gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds will not be permitted.
“This does not include religious gatherings and funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums and gyms,” the President said.
Funerals may not be attended by more than 50 people, and there needs to be social distancing, hand sanitising and mask wearing.
“It remains compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space,” President Ramaphosa said.
He encouraged people who discover that they have been exposed to the virus or are COVID-19 positive to isolate at home away from other members of the household or, if this is not possible, go to a government quarantine site.
“Being in crowded places or spending time in closed, unventilated spaces dramatically increases the risk of contracting the virus. For this reason, you must avoid indoor spaces wherever possible and open windows to limit the spread of the virus through the air.
“Research has shown that the risk of transmission of the virus is almost twenty times higher indoors than in outdoor settings,” he said.
The President reiterated that all South Africans should keep a safe distance of 1.5 metres from other people at all times.
“We urge employers to allow their employees to work from home wherever possible, and not to risk transmission where it is not absolutely necessary to do so. If you must have interactions with friends and family do so outside,” President Ramaphosa said.