South Africa moves to lockdown Level 1 as Covid cases decline

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 15; 2018: President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is talking to media at the end of an EU - South-Africa Summit meeting on climate change, migration to trade and security, in the Europa, the EU Council headquarter on November 15, 2018. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced that the country was adjusting its COVID-19 situation from Level 3 to Level 1 as from midnight.

Ramaphosa said that the cabinet had decided earlier today to downgrade the national alert level due to a decline in coronavirus infections.

“Due to the decline in infections, the country can now ease some of the restrictions on movement and activity, but do so cautiously,” Ramaphosa said in his state of the nation address.

Some of the regulations under the Level 1 alert include the ban of night vigils or other gatherings before or after funerals, nightclubs to remain closed, curfew hours to run from 12 midnight to 4 am, permit to the selling of alcohol, gatherings limited to 100 indoors and 250 outdoors and that 33 land borders to remain closed while 20 will remain open.

Ramaphosa also added that only five airports will be open for international flights and that wearing of masks in public by all persons is mandatory.

The president said that persons who do not wear a mask will be committing an offence.

“The return to Alert Level 1 means that most of the remaining restrictions on economic activity have been removed. We expect this to lead to higher consumer spending, bolstered by the steady recovery in employment,” said Ramaphosa.

The president stated that the new variant – known as 501Y.v2 – is now the dominant variant in the country.

New infections, admissions to hospital and deaths have fallen significantly and continue to decline steadily, Ramaphosa said.
In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10,000 new infections, according to the president.

He encouraged citizens not to let their guard down with the new restrictions to maintain low levels of infections and, in particular, to prevent super-spreading events.

The South Africa Health Department has reported 1,447 new cases of coronavirus, taking the number of total infections to 1,512,225.

There have been a further 157 COVID-19-related deaths in the country, bringing the national death toll to 49,941 deaths.