Cape Town – While Western Cape officials have welcomed the move to lockdown level 1, they again called for the end to the lockdown to enable a quick recovery for the economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged eligible South Africans to get Covid-19 jabs as the Health Department shifts into high gear to meet its target of having 70% of the adult population vaccinated by the end of the year.
Addressing the nation last night, Ramaphosa confirmed that South Africa had officially moved from the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting that average new cases for the past two weeks stood at 1 800 daily.
“At the peak of the third wave we were recording 20 000 new cases each day… there are sustained decreases in Covid-19 hospitalisations as well as deaths in all provinces.
“This is news that is welcome to all of us,” Ramaphosa said.
This comes as South Africa has administered more than 17 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines with 8.6 million people fully vaccinated.
“We long for a time when we can go to church, to the mosque, to the shul and to the temple without restrictions and to be able to hug and shake hands without worrying about getting sick,” Ramaphosa said.
With infections receding, Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would return to adjusted alert level 1 which means that the maximum number for indoor gatherings is now 750 and 2 000 for outdoor gatherings.
Where an indoor venue is too small, it should not have more than 50% of its capacity.
The number of mourners allowed at funerals has been increased to 100 but “after tears”, celebrations are banned.
The curfew will now be from midnight to 4am.
To facilitate travel, and access to facilities, Ramaphosa said the Health Department will roll out a “secure vaccine certificate”.
He said he had been in discussions with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ease that country’s restrictions on travellers to South Africa.
“This has put us in a disadvantaged position, since the UK is South Africa’s biggest source of tourism from the northern hemisphere and a significant trading partner,” said Ramaphosa.
Premier Alan Winde said: “There is no doubt that the move to alert level 1 will provide a welcome boost for our economy, especially our tourism and hospitality sector, but we must now look beyond this centralised approach and put in place the localised response systems that will enable our economy to recover quickly.”
City of Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said that while the move to level one to allow the economy to reopen further is welcomed, he said that it is time to end the state of disaster.
“The City of Cape Town adds its voice to calls by the Western Cape government to end the lockdown entirely and place trust in the public to continue to be responsible.
“After more than 18 months businesses can simply no longer endure this back and forth of changing lockdown levels.
“They experienced severe strain with reduced income and job losses trying to adapt and survive in these very challenging circumstances.
“As we approach the summer and peak tourism season, we need to give the economy the best chance at recovery,” said Plato.