South Africa will move to Alert Level 1 with effect from midnight on Sunday 20 September 2020.
President Ramaphosa announced the move during an address to the nation last night on progress in efforts to contain the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.
The president declared that South Africa has withstood the coronavirus storm and that “now is the time to return our country, its people and our economy to a situation that is more normal, that more resembles the lives that we were living six months ago”.
He added that it is “time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us”.
The president announced that cabinet, following consultations with provincial and local government representatives, and drawing on the advice of scientists and engagements with various stakeholders, has decided to move the country to Alert Level 1.
The move “recognises that levels of infection are relatively low and that there is sufficient capacity in our health system to manage the current need”.
Under Alert Level 1, restrictions on gatherings will be eased:
• Social, religious, political and other gatherings will be permitted, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue, up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings. Health protocols, such as washing or sanitising of hands, social distancing and mask wearing, will need to be strictly observed.
• The maximum number of people who may attend a funeral is increased from 50 to 100 due to the higher risk of viral transmission at funerals. Night vigils are still not permitted.
• Venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment – such as gyms and theatres – which were limited to no more than 50 people, will now be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their venue’s capacity as determined by available floor space, subject to social distancing and other health protocols.
• Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.
The president also pointed out that the Independent Electoral Commission will be allowed to visit correctional centres, health facilities, old age homes and other similar institutions in order to carry out voter registration or special voting.
Restrictions on international travel will also be “gradually and cautiously” eased under Alert Level 1.
Travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other travel will be allowed with effect from 1 October 2020.
The president announced that this will be subject to various containment and mitigation measures:
• Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. A list of countries will be published based on the latest scientific data.
• Travellers will only be able to use one of the land border posts that have remained operational during the lockdown or one of the three main airports: King Shaka, OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport.
• On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure.
• Where a traveller has not done a COVID-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
• All travellers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted.
• All travellers will be asked to install the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app.
Other adjustments to lockdown restrictions under Alert Level 1 include that the curfew will now apply between midnight and 4am, the sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption is now permitted from Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 17h00 and alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only and with strict adherence to the curfew.
The president confirmed that cabinet will finalise the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan in the coming weeks.
The plan will “build on the R500 billion economic and social relief package we announced in April, which has provided vital support for households, companies and workers at a time of dire need”.