South Africa is to remain on Coronavirus Covid-19 Alert Level 1 lockdown.
President Ramaphosa announced this during an address to the nation last night on South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the president, the National Coronavirus Command Council met yesterday to consider the recent rise in infections and the possible impact of the recently discovered Omicron variant.
The President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet also met yesterday where a decision was taken to keep South Africa on Alert Level 1.
Last week, scientists identified a new variant of the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease.
Subsequently, the World Health Organization named it Omicron and declared it a ‘variant of concern’.
Measures that remain in place in terms of Alert Level 1 Regulations include:
• Curfew in place from 12 midnight to 4 am.
• 750 people allowed to gather indoors and 2 000 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used.
• No more than 100 people are permitted at a funeral, and night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed.
• Wearing of masks in public places mandatory – failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence.
• Sale of alcohol permitted according to the regular licence conditions – not to be sold during curfew hours.
The president announced that infection rates and hospitalization will be closely monitored over the short term and the situation will be reviewed in a week.
“We will then need to determine whether the existing measures are adequate or whether changes need to be made to the current regulations”, he said.
The president added that the process of amending health regulations has begun “so that we can review the use of the Disaster Management Act to manage our response to the pandemic, with a view to ultimately lifting the National State of Disaster”.
As regards vaccinations, the president called on every person who has not been vaccinated to go to their nearest vaccination station without delay.
“If there is someone in your family or among your friends who is not vaccinated, I call on you to encourage them to get vaccinated. Vaccination is by far the most important way to protect yourself and those around you against the Omicron variant, to reduce the impact of the fourth wave and to help restore the social freedoms we all yearn for”, he said.
The president indicated that discussions are underway with social partners and other stakeholders on introducing measures that make vaccination a condition for access to workplaces, public events, public transport and public establishments.
A task team has been set up to undertake broad consultations on making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations.