In what has become a regular occurrence over the past year, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation this evening to discuss the latest developments with regard to COVID-19 in South Africa. The address focused primarily on the rollout of vaccines in the country, with the first batch landing at OR Tambo International Airport from India earlier in the day.
As has been explained during previous briefings, the president confirmed that frontline healthcare workers will be prioritised during this first phase of the rollout, with the aim being to vaccine 67 percent of the nation., roughly 40 million people to create a state of population immunity over the course of the coming year.
Ramaphosa also confirmed that the country will remain in alert level 3 lockdown, but some restrictions will be eased as the number of new daily infections has decreased significantly since the second wave began in December.
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The most pertinent changes focus on gatherings, with religious ones now permitted provided the correct COVID-19 protocols are adhered to and organisers ensure proper social distancing measures are in place. Public areas, such as beaches, parks and swimming pools have been re-opened once again, with funerals also being allowed provided no more than 50 people are in attendance.
The curfew has also been adjusted, and will take effect from 23:00 in the evening until 4:00 in the morning, with restaurants permitted to stay open until 22:00. The sale of alcohol has once agin been allowed under the altered restrictions, with purchasing at establishments and retailers allowed from 10:00 in the morning on Monday and ending at 18:00 on Thursday.
Masks, however, remain compulsory in public spaces, and failure to wear one will result in a potential fine or legal action being taken against you.
While the worst of the second wave is behind us, and the arrival of vaccines is cause for optimism, the president has reiterated that South Africans remain vigilant when it comes to adhering to lockdown regulations, as a third wave could develop at any time.
[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 GovernmentZA]