South Africa's president announced a further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions late Sunday in a bid to revive the continent’s most industrialized economy as virus cases slowed.
In a televised address to the nation, Cyril Ramaphosa said the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 advised the government to ease restrictions on the movement of people and gatherings.
“The Cabinet has therefore decided that the country should be moved from Adjusted Alert Level 3 and placed on Adjusted Alert Level 2 with effect from tomorrow, Monday, the 13th of September 2021,” Ramaphosa announced.
The president said the number of people allowed to gather indoors has been increased from 50 to 250, while the number of people allowed to gather for outdoor events is now 500 compared with 100 previously.
“This includes religious services, political events and social gatherings, as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places,” he said.
The relaxation also comes as a relief to local politicians, who will now have an opportunity to hold small campaign rallies ahead of Nov. 1 local government elections.
The South African leader also allowed the sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
Alcohol consumption remains prohibited in public spaces, he said.
Ramaphosa also announced that the night curfew will now start at 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. and end at 4 a.m.
The president also said he will soon be providing further information on an approach to vaccine passports, which will be used as evidence of vaccination against COVID-19 and could help people gain access to public spaces such as for events.
Ramaphosa encouraged South Africans to get vaccinated to fight the pandemic and return to normal lives.
“If many people are not vaccinated and remain vulnerable to infection, the chance of new and more dangerous variants emerging is far greater,” he said.
South Africa, with a population of over 60 million, has administered 14.6 million vaccine doses and more than 7 million people are fully vaccinated.
“I want to stress that the vaccination program is open to all people in South Africa, whether or not they are South African citizens,” he said.
South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 cases on the continent with more than 2.85 million and 84,877 fatalities recorded. Anadolu Agency