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Outdoor mask-wearing scrapped, larger crowds permitted under revised restrictions – Ramaphosa

Image: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Image: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Published Mar 22, 2022

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has revised South Africa’s restrictions under alert level 1, which calls for the end of outdoor mask-wearing and will allow for larger gatherings.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday evening, Ramaphosa said due to the changing nature of the pandemic the government would lift the National State of Disaster and replace it with new health regulations.

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Last week, the Department of Health published the proposed new health regulations to deal with Covid-19 and other notifiable medical conditions.

The president invited all South Africans to make a comment on the draft regulations before April 16..

“When finalised, they will replace the state of disaster regulations, which is the legal instrument we use to manage the pandemic,” he said.

Here are the changes to lockdown alert level 1:

  • The wearing of masks is no longer required outdoors, however, masks will still be required to be worn indoors, including shops or forms of transport.
  • Both indoor and outdoor venues are able to take up to 50% of the capacity, provided that the criteria of entrance of those venues is proof of vaccination or a Covid-19 test not older than 72 hours. However, where there is no provision for proof of vaccinations or a Covid-19 test, then the current upper limit will remain 1 000 people indoors and 2 000 people outdoors.
  • Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.
  • The maximum number of people permitted at a funeral has increased from 100 to 200 people. Night vigils are still not permitted.
  • Physical distancing of 1 metre must still be maintained between people, apart from schools.

“This change to the restrictions on gatherings will be of great benefit to sports, cultural, entertainment and event industries,” said Ramaphosa.

As the country has undergone four waves of Covid-19, Ramaphosa said fewer people are becoming severely ill and requiring hospitalisation, and there are fewer deaths than before.

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He said scientists explain this is due to 60-80% of the population having some form of immunity to the virus from previous infection or vaccinations.

On Tuesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recorded 912 new Covid-19 cases, which represents a 4.7% positivity rate.

“Going forward, the most important defences against the disease are vaccinations and the observance of basic measures such as wearing masks and sanitising. The further easing of restrictions will require an increase in vaccinations,” he said.

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22 March Covid-19 stats: Graphic: The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

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