South Africa to ease coronavirus restrictions as cases drop

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New Delhi (NVI): South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that his country is further easing restrictions imposed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic as figures continue to improve.

The new measures will come into effect from September 20, an overnight curfew will be reduced, gatherings will be allowed at 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, and alcohol will again be on sale.

Cyril Ramaphosa in a television address to the nation said, “We have withstood the coronavirus storm. But rules on social distancing and mask-wearing will remain in place.”

He also said, “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.”

“It is time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us,” Ramaphosa added

The African continent shuttered its borders at the start of a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 to contain the spread of the virus. In addition to this, the president said that international travel would also resume from October 1st.

The president announced that following consultations with health experts and officials from across South Africa, the country would lower its current alert Level 2 to Level 1 from midnight on September 20.

Under the new measures, most gatherings will be permitted at 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, with a cap of 250 people for indoor and 500 people for outdoors events.

A 10:00 pm curfew will be scaled back to midnight and a 50-person limit at recreational facilities will be lifted.

Restrictions on sporting events remain in place, however, and face-masks will still be required in public. Whereas, alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments

South Africa has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus, with more than 651,000 infections and over 15,600 deaths recorded to date. However, the number of new cases has dropped from about 12,000 per day in July to fewer than 2,000.

Moreover, travel may also be restricted to and from countries with high infection rates, Ramaphosa said, adding that, a list would be determined based on latest scientific data from those countries.

South Africa will start by reopening its three main airports in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

In addition, tourists arriving in South Africa must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken less than 72 hours prior, or quarantine at their own cost.

“Further stimulus package was being drawn up to rebuild an economy that has been savaged by the lockdown,” Ramaphosa stated.