Topline: The prevailing mood was of anxiety and fear of another hard lockdown when the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that he would be addressing the nation on Wednesday evening. However, his address was more of an appeal to citizens to not “relax” just yet, as the virus has not yet been beaten. The president also made some amendments to the current Alert Level One of the lockdown.
- To prevent a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus, Ramaphosa announced that the government would be extending the National State of Disaster by another month to December 15. This is to ensure that all necessary prevention measures remain in place.
- Ramaphosa announced that the country would once again be opening up international travel to all countries. This, after international travel was restricted to and from countries with high infection rates and limited to only South Africa’s big main airports: King Shaka, OR Tambo, and Cape Town International Airport.
- In addition, South Africa will also be restoring the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol at retail outlets as opposed to the strict rules that only allowed South Africans to buy alcohol from Monday to Thursday, between 9AM and 5PM.
- The President has further called on South Africans to embark on five days of mourning from November 25 to 29 to remember the victims of both Covid-19 and gender-based violence. The national flag will fly at half-mast from 6AM to 6PM (SAST); he also requested people to wear black armbands as a sign of mourning.
- As chairperson of the African Union, Ramaphosa established the Covid-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. He said it is estimated that Africa will need around $12 billion and 750 million doses of an effective vaccine.
- Ramaphosa also noted the preliminary agreement between South Africa’s biggest pharmaceutical manufacturer, Aspen Pharmacare, and US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The two companies announced on November 2 that they would be producing the candidate Covid-19 vaccine in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
- “Aspen has the capacity to manufacture 300 million doses of the candidate vaccine at its Nelson Mandela Bay plant. This is a life-saving medical product that will be needed across the world, which will be manufactured by South African workers,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa has once again appealed to South Africans to not stop adhering to preventative measures just because the country is at Alert Level One. He further stated that as the country moves into a hot festive season, more people will want to see their family and friends but people should not get complacent.
“Wearing a mask every time we leave home is far, far better than a second wave. It is also far better than a return to lockdown and better than having to shut down the economy. A number of outbreaks have been linked to indoor gatherings where there is poor ventilation and no social distancing,” Ramaphosa said.