South Africa Eases COVID-19 Restriction

FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment facilities at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa April 24, 2020. Jerome Delay/Pool via REUTERS

South Africa has begun the gradual easing of restrictions imposed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the move to ease a number of coronavirus-related restrictions was due to the “gradual, but steady, decline in new infections, hospitalisations and deaths” and move to alert level 1.

“Cabinet decided this morning that the country should move to alert level 1.

“The move to alert level 1 will take effect from midnight on Sunday Sept. 20, 2020 … The move to alert level 1 will mean a further easing of restrictions on gatherings,” Ramaphosa said.

From next Sunday, indoor gatherings of up to 250 people and outdoor public events of up to 500 people will be permitted while the maximum number of those who may attend a funeral is increased from 50 to 100.

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“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,” he said.

In addition, from Oct. 1, South will gradually ease restrictions on international travel, allowing people to travel into and out of the country for business, leisure and other purposes.

At the same time, trips to and from certain countries that have high infection rates may be restricted.

“We will be allowing travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other travel with effect from 1 October 2020,” the President said in a televised address.

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The announcement comes after six months of imposing one of the strictest lockdowns in the world which hit Africa’ss most industrialised nation hard.

The restriction set back the country’s economy back by 13 years and pushed millions more into unemployment.

But the number of new cases started receding from August with the current average daily rate of new cases below 2,000 and recovery rate at 89%, Ramaphosa said.

The President also eased the overnight curfew on the movement of people.

Recreation and fitness centres have also been allowed with 50% capacity, although sporting events are still restricted.

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