President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday eased Covid-19 restrictions and moved the country to adjusted alert level three, which allows the sale of alcohol and opening of restaurants.
Ramaphosa said the month-long adjusted alert level four measures had helped to reduce the spread of the virus.
He said infections dropped by 20 percent. Infections in Gauteng were slowing down but in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape cases were on the rise.
“In all these cases, infections are being driven by the Delta variant, which as we said before is far more transmissible than previous variants,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said on-site alcohol consumption can resume but must end at 8 pm. Off-site sales can resume between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday.
The curfew remains in place from 10 pm to 4 am.
Funerals are still limited to a maximum of 50 people, but night vigils and after burial gatherings remain banned.
Gatherings are now permitted but are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Small venues can operate with half the capacity.
“As we ease restrictions, we must remember that infections remain high and that we need to continue to exercise caution,” said Ramaphosa.
“As we have always said, our most effective weapon in the fight against Covid-19 is an effective and comprehensive vaccination programme.”
The president said about 10 percent of the nearly 60 million population had been vaccinated so far and by the end of the year nearly everyone should have had a jab.
Ramaphosa also took time to address the unrest and resultant crisis.
He lamented the deaths of more than 300 people and the destruction of businesses.
The president said those behind the unrest would be brought to book.
“I want to make it clear that law and order will be maintained,” said Ramaphosa.
“There will be further arrests, particularly of those who conceptualised, planned and executed these actions that have led to so much destruction and loss of life.”
He said arrangements have been made to prosecute the more than 3 000 people arrested for public violence and looting.
Workers affected by the unrest will be assisted by the UIF, said the president.
“We are therefore expanding the Employment Tax Incentive for a period of four months to include any employee earning below R6 500 and to increase the incentive amount by up to R750 per month,” said Ramaphosa.
He said the R350 per month TERs to assist the unemployed was being extended until March 2022.
“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,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said SASRIA – the government insurance – would assist insured businesses affected by the unrest.