South Africa is to remain on adjusted Alert Level 3 lockdown.
President Ramaphosa announced this in an address to the nation last night on progress in the national effort to contain the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The president pointed out that the “number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths is higher now than it has ever been since the first case was recorded in our country in March 2020”.
This year, nearly 190,000 new coronavirus infections and more than 4,600 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded so far.
In response, most of the measures announced on 28 December 2020 will remain in place:
• Most indoor and outdoor gatherings will not be permitted. This includes social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds – exceptions include funerals, restaurants, museums and gyms;
• No more than 50 people to attend funerals with social distancing, hand sanitising and mask wearing in place;
• Curfew adjusted – 9pm until 5am;
• Mask wearing in public remains compulsory;
• Sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol to remain shut down – to reduce trauma cases in hospitals;
• Beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas to remain closed – botanical gardens, national parks and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place to remain open.
The president also announced that, in order to reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission, the 20 land ports of entry that are currently open will be closed until 15 February for general entry and departure.
Included are the six busiest border posts, namely, Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein.
However, entering or departing the country will still be allowed for:
• the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods;
• emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition;
• the return of South African nationals, permanent residents or persons with other valid visas;
• the departure of foreign nationals; and
• daily commuters from neighbouring countries attending school in South Africa.
The president emphasized that it is necessary to “keep the Alert Level 3 measures in place until we have passed the peak of new infections and we are certain that the rate of transmission has fallen enough to allow us to safely ease the current restrictions”.
As regards vaccines, the president declared that the vaccine rollout strategy “will be the largest and most complex logistical undertaking in our country’s history”.
The strategy focuses on acquiring enough vaccine doses to reach herd immunity (40 million people vaccinated), identifying priority groups that need to be vaccinated (1.2 million front line health workers first in line) and distributing and administering vaccines throughout the country.
According to the president, 20 million doses have so far been secured to be delivered mainly in the first half of 2021.
The president stressed that “every vaccine that will be used in our programme will have to be approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, which applies stringent scientific standards to ensure the safety and efficacy of any drug or treatment”.