- President Cyril Ramaphosa eased the lockdown regulations, focusing on gatherings and the wearing of masks.
- He addressed the nation following a meeting with the Presidential Command Council.
- Covid-19 numbers have been on a steady decline in recent weeks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced significant changes to the lockdown regulations on Tuesday evening.
He addressed the nation following a meeting with the Presidential Command Council (PCC), together with premiers, mayors, ministers and deputy ministers.
Ramaphosa said most of the restrictions on economic activity had been lifted – and now they were able to ease the restrictions further.
“The pandemic has changed the way we work, travel, worship and socialise. It has shattered many livelihoods and devastated our economy, leading to the closure of many businesses and the loss of some two million jobs,” he said.
Ramaphosa announced that the restrictions on gatherings were being significantly changed.
In previous regulations, the emphasis was on placing an upper limit on the number of people who could attend a gathering.
“The approach going forward is that both indoor and outdoor venues can now take up to 50 percent of their capacity, provided that the criteria for entrance is proof of vaccination or a Covid test not older than 72 hours.
“But where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a Covid test, then the current upper limit will remain – of 1 000 people indoors and 2 000 people outdoors,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the change to the restrictions on gatherings will be of great benefit to the sporting, cultural, entertainment and events industries in particular.
“This means that if we are vaccinated or have recently tested negative, we will be able to return to watching sports in stadiums and attending music concerts, theatre performances, conferences and other events,” he said.
As of Tuesday evening, the country had recorded 912 new Covid-19 infections and one fatality.
Ramaphosa said the maximum number of people permitted at a funeral would increase from 100 to 200.
However, night vigils and ‘after-tears’ gatherings were still prohibited.
The president announced crucial changes to the regulation on the wearing of masks.
“As before, it is mandatory to wear a cloth mask or similar covering over the nose and mouth when in public indoor spaces. However, a mask is not required when outdoors. This means that we still need to wear masks when in shops, malls, offices, factories, taxis, buses, trains or any other indoor public space.
“But we do not need to wear masks when walking in the street or in an open space, when exercising outdoors or when attending an outdoor gathering,” he said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, in an address to the nation, said government would lift the state of disaster once public comment on the health regulations published by the Minister of health has been completed. He said this does not mean the pandemic is over, merely that the government’s response is changing.
Ramaphosa touched on discussions regarding the national state of disaster, which was extended to 15 April.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said on Tuesday he would use the meeting to lobby Ramaphosa to end the national state of disaster.
Ramaphosa said that, due to the changing nature of the pandemic, and due to the progress that had been made through collective efforts, the government intend to lift the national state of disaster as soon as public comment on the health regulations, published by the minister of health, had been completed.
“These regulations, when finalised, will replace the state of disaster regulations as the legal instrument that we use to manage the pandemic,” he said.