During a national address on Sunday night, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that some Covid-19 regulations have been amended and the country has moved to adjusted lockdown level 3 with immediate effect.
“We have largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections, although there are areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because the rates of infections have not yet shown signs of decline,” Ramaphosa said, adding that the lockdown regulations that have been in effect over the past 28 days have largely been effective in curbing the spread of the deadly virus.
Not out of the woods
While the move to a lower lockdown level is positive, it does not mean that South Africa is out of the woods yet, he said.
“The average number of daily new infections over the last week was around 12 000 new infections a day, which represents a 20% drop from the previous week. In the last two weeks, the number of new infections in Gauteng, which has been the epicentre of the third wave, has been steadily declining.”
Despite the drop in the infection rate, he has sounded the alarm regarding Covid-19 in several provinces: “Daily new infections in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal continue to rise. There has also been a concerning rise in infections in the Northern Cape after a period of relative stability,” Ramaphosa added.
This wave of infections continues to be driven by the Delta variant of the virus.
New Covid-19 infections are on a downward trend. Hospitalisations and deaths, however, are still worryingly high. Over the past week, cases, testing, test positivity and hospitalisations have dropped by 19%, 9%, 11% and 7%, respectively, while Covid-19-related deaths are up by 11%.
Amended regulations under lockdown level 3:
The curfew starts at 10pm and ends at 4am;
The ban on the sale of alcohol has been lifted. The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be permitted between 10am and 6pm Monday to Thursday.
Restaurants may serve alcohol on site until 8pm.
Leisure travel to and from Gauteng is permitted.
Non-essential establishments such as restaurants, bars, taverns and fitness centres can reopen, but must close by 8pm to allow staff to travel home before curfew.
Gatherings are restricted to 100 people outdoors and 50 people indoors, alternatively 50% of the venue capacity to ensure adequate social distancing.
As of Sunday, South Africa had recorded at total of 2 377 823 Covid-19 infections, and 69 775 deaths.
The country’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out has gained momentum in recent weeks, Ramaphosa said.
“Our vaccination campaign has made huge strides. We are now administering 240 000 vaccines every weekday,” he said, adding that he wanted the figure to reach 300 000 a day, including weekends.
The president also announced that people between the ages of 18 and 34 will be eligible for vaccination from September 1.
In the past 24 hours, 20 392 vaccinations have been recorded. This is up from 16 351 last Sunday. To date, a total 6 384 482 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered. The number of adults fully vaccinated in South Africa is 2 311 559. That’s 5.8% of the country’s population.
Ramaphosa placed an emphasis on rebuilding businesses following the recent looting and riots.
“Law and order will be maintained. There will be further arrests, particularly of those who conceptualised, planned and executed these actions that led to so much destruction and loss of life. No stone will be left unturned,” Ramaphosa insisted.
Meanwhile, the R350 Covid-19 relief grant will be reinstated until the end of March 2022 as the country continues to grapple with the economic impact of the pandemic and the riots.
“This has been made possible by the slight improvement we have seen in our revenue collection. We are expanding the number of people who are eligible for this grant by allowing unemployed caregivers who currently receive a child support grant to apply,” Ramaphosa added.
Further details about the reinstatement of the grant are expected to be communicated in due course.