Two Years On: South Africa Formally Ends State Of Disaster Declared In Response To Pandemic

Yeshiel Panchia
Published 10 months ago

South Africans breathed a sigh of relief as President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a televised address to the nation this evening. 

“We are hopeful that the worst is behind us, and we are confident that there are only better days ahead,” said President Ramaphosa, as the State of Disaster was withdrawn after 750 days.  

Originally declared at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Disaster allowed for extraordinary powers to be exercised by the state, including regulations and restrictions to be gazette and implemented without normal commentary and oversight from the public – these included non-essential travel bans and the restriction of the sale of liquor amongst others. 

With the country recording low numbers COVID-19 cases and fewer fatalities registered in reporting by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, the ending of the State of Disaster commemorates a step back to normalcy for the country.  

Ramaphosa was at pains to highlight the efforts of government during the challenging last two years, drawing attention to the COVID-19 relief grant and vaccination efforts, the valiant efforts of healthcare workers and the importance of vaccination. 

Some regulations will remain during a transitory period, with venue capacities, indoor mask wearing and testing for international travel still in place, aimed to mitigate the remaining risk the pandemic still poses. These last few regulations will lapse after 30 days. 

The address was ended with what has now become a characteristic call for unity: “Since this virus first arrived on our shores two years ago, we have acted together, with purpose and resolve, to overcome the pandemic… Now is the time to get our country back on track.”