S. Africa lessens lockdown regulations as COVID cases decline

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday night that as Covid-19 cases decline, the South African cabinet has eased lockdown restrictions from alert level three to level one, allowing political and religious gatherings.

“In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10,000 new infections,” Mr Ramaphosa announced. “A month ago, in the last week of January, the country recorded over 40,000 new cases. And a month before that, in the last week of December, the country recorded close to 90,000 new cases.”

According to him, the country can now “cautiously” ease some of the restrictions on movement and activities due to the decrease in infections.

Religious, social, political, and cultural gatherings will be allowed, with size restrictions, social distancing, and other health protocols in place. The curfew will now be in effect from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. The sale of alcohol will be permitted, subject to the terms of the license.

Night vigils or other gatherings before or after funerals, however, are still prohibited. Nightclubs will be shut down. The 33 land border posts that have been closed for the duration of the shutdown will remain shut. Masks are still required to be worn in public places.

South Africa, according to the president, has now clearly emerged from the second wave, which “was far more devastating and caused greater loss of life than the first wave.”

He believes the eight-week drop in cases is due to a combination of the public health measures implemented and accumulating immunity in those who became infected.

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