President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday relaxed lockdown regulations in South Africa to allow for bigger inside and outside gatherings, longer hours for the sale of booze and a reduced curfew.
He said owing to a sustained reduction of new infections, the Cabinet had decided to move the country from Alert Level three to Alert Level two of the lockdown from Monday.
Ramaphosa said this means that the curfew will start at 11 pm and end at 4 am.
Nonessential establishments like restaurants, bars, and fitness centres must close at 10 pm – one hour before the curfew starts.
The president said indoor gatherings have been increased to a limit of 250 people – with adequate ventilation, wearing of masks, and social distancing.
Outdoors gatherings are now limited to 500 people. Again the president warned that not wearing a mask in public remains a “criminal offence”.
Small venues must not have more than 50 percent capacity –
Ramaphosa said the sale of booze off-site will be permitted between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday to Friday.
On-site consumption within normal regulations will be permitted up to 10 pm.
However, funerals remain with a limit of 50 people and “after tears” gatherings (night vigils) are not permitted.
The president said the measures will be reviewed in two weeks time.
He also implored everyone in South Africa who is eligible to get vaccinated at any of the more than 3 000 sites around the country.
Ramaphosa said anyone who is in South Africa can get the jab for free.
More than seven million people have been fully vaccinated. The president said all in all more than 14 million jabs have been administered in the country.
Ramaphosa said the jab was safe and remains the most potent weapon that South Africa has against the virus.
He said there was proof that vaccination protected individuals from severe illness and death.
Only a few vaccinated people have succumbed to the disease, the president said with reference to data collected in the Western Cape.