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A Year With The Virus, South Africa Moves From Alert Level 3 to 1

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(Photo by JEROME DELAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Topline: With declining Covid-19 hospital admissions and deaths, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on Sunday evening to announce the country’s move from Lockdown Alert Level 3 directly to Alert Level 1 and some crucial changes to public restrictions.

Key Facts

  • Friday, March 5, will mark one year since the first case of coronavirus was reported in South Africa. This comes just as the country has hit over 1.5 million cases and nearly 50, 000 people have died from the fatal virus. 
  • “So much has changed in our country and our lives. But the spirit of our people has not changed. You have endured the greatest hardships, but you have remained resolute, united, and hopeful,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday evening.
  • The president further noted the “dramatic decline” in infection rates recently, thus the decision of the government to reduce the lockdown level to one. 
  • Moreover, admissions to hospital and deaths “have fallen significantly and continue to decline steadily”. In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10,000 new infections. Ramaphosa believes that the decline is due to a combination of public health measures, changes in social behavior and accumulating immunity in those who became infected in the communities.

Crucial Changes In Restrictions

  • The hours of the curfew will now be from midnight until 4AM.
  • Gatherings will be permitted, subject to limitations on size. These include religious, social, political, and cultural gatherings. However, the maximum number of people allowed at any gathering is 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors. Furthermore, night vigils and nightclubs are still not permitted. 
  • The sale of alcohol is now allowed as normal however not during the hours of curfew. 
  • The 33 land border posts that have been closed throughout this period will remain closed, while the other 20 will remain open. Only five airports, OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, Kruger Mpumalanga, and Lanseria airports, will be open for international travel

Crucial Quote

“This pandemic has taken much from us, but it has not taken our strength, our courage, or our sense of solidarity as a people,” Ramaphosa said. “It has not dampened our spirit or weakened our resolve. Our uniquely South African spirit has allowed us to remain steadfast in the face of an unprecedented threat, and which will continue to inspire us as we chart a path to recovery.”

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