President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that government will introduce new restrictions for South Africa ahead of the Easter weekend.
In a national address on Tuesday evening (30 March), the president said that the latest set of restrictions come a year after the country first entered into a lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through changes made to personal behaviour over the last year, South Africans have been able to protect each other and their communities. He added that the country has seen a decline in both hospitalisations and deaths in recent weeks.
However, Ramaphosa said that the country was unable to return to normal and that precautions would once again need to be taken over the Easter period.
The president said that will lead to increased travel as South African travel for holiday and religious purposes, as well as gatherings.
Following consultations at a national and provincial level, Ramaphosa said that the following restrictions would be introduced:
- The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday;
- On-site sales of alcohol at restaurants, shebeens and bars will be allowed until 23h00 in the evening;
- Religious gatherings will be limited to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors, subject to 50% of the venue size being used;
- Other gatherings will also be restricted to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors. This will be reviewed within 15 days;
- Interprovincial travel is permitted but should be limited where possible;
- Public recreational places such as beaches and parks will remain open – subject to health protocols being followed;
- The curfew will be maintained from 00h00 – 04h00;
- Funerals are limited to two hours and are restricted to 100 people.
Ramaphosa said that the country has secured enough Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 40 million South Africans.
“In the middle of February, we began Phase 1 of our vaccination programme, which involves the vaccination of health workers. This phase is on track to be completed within three months.
“More than 250,000 health workers have to date received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as part of the Sisonke trial. We have secured 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which we know to be effective against the dominant variants in our country.
“We have secured a further 20 million doses and are finalising the agreement with Johnson & Johnson. We are also finalising an agreement for 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses”
“We will make further announcements once these negotiations have been concluded.”
While further procurement details are being finalised, the president that the government was confident that the country would meet its vaccination targets.
He said that phase two of the country’s vaccination rollout will begin in mid-May, with people over 60 and those with co-morbidities to be targeted.
The country will establish more 2,000 sites as vaccination points including health centres and retail stores to assist with this rollout. Eligible South Africans will have to register through the government’s online portal to qualify for access.
“We are developing mechanisms to identify and register undocumented persons so that they too can be vaccinated. We remain committed to keeping the nation informed on every step in the vaccine rollout process,” he said.
An Electronic Vaccination Data System has been established to manage the vaccine rollout and direct people towards vaccination sites closest to where they live. Registration to be vaccinated is scheduled to start in April.
People will be encouraged to register on-line, but those without on-line access will be able to register in person. Everyone who will be vaccinated needs to be registered on this system first. People will be invited to register once they become eligible, the president said.