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Restrictions and travel bans will not prevent the spread of Omicron variant, says Ramaphosa

File picture: Siyabulela Duda

File picture: Siyabulela Duda

Published Nov 28, 2021


Cape Town – The prohibition of travel is not informed by science and will not be effective in preventing the spread of the Omicron Variant, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday night over the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic after meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council, the President’s Co-ordinating Council and Cabinet.

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A number of countries including the UK and in the EU have imposed a travel ban on South Africa after the discovery of Omicron earlier this week.

However, Ramaphosa, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla and other scientists said this decision was premature.

“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries,” said Ramaphosa, adding that the prohibition of travel will not be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.

“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic,” he said.

“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our Southern African sister countries to urgently reverse their decisions and lift the ban they have imposed before any further damage is done to our economies and to the livelihoods of our people.”

Ramaphosa said there was "no scientific justification“ for keeping these restrictions in place.

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Ramaphosa has urged citizens to get vaccinated and to continue to wear face masks and to sanitise.

"Vaccination is by far the most important way to protect yourself and those around you against the army crown variant to reduce the impact of the fourth wave and to help restore the social freedoms we all yearn for. Vaccination is vital to the return of our economy to full operation and the resumption of travel into the recovery of vulnerable sectors that tourism and hospitality," said Ramaphosa.

A few months ago, Ramaphosa moved the country to level 1 lockdown.

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If you need a reminder of what this entails, the following measures are applied as part of alert level 1:

- The hours of the curfew are from midnight to 4am.

- Non-essential establishments such as restaurants and bars will need to close by 11pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.

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- The maximum number of people permitted to attend meetings indoors stands at 750. The maximum number of people permitted to attend meetings outdoors is 2 000.

– No more than 100 people are allowed at funerals and night vigils and after tears are not allowed.

– The wearing of masks in public remains mandatory and failure to do so is a criminal offence.

– The sale of alcohol is permitted according to the regular licence conditions, but may not be sold during curfew hours.