On Monday, South Africa will move into lockdown with the lowest ‘alert level 1’. This has been done after further relaxation on the restrictions of movement, gatherings, and economic activities. Over eight weeks, there has been a sharp and dramatic decline in the Covid-19 cases.
Of the five levels of lockdown, Alert level 1 is the lowest. The restrictions have been imposed a year ago after the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 1.5 million people as nearly 50,000 lives have been claimed in the entire country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has said in a national broadcast that the country has emerged from the second wave now as there have been deaths and admission to hospitals along with new infections. But there is a significant fall in the rates and there is a continuous and steady decline.
The country recorded just less than 10,000 new infections a month ago in the weeks that have gone by. Over 40,000 new cases have been recorded in the last week of January and just a month before that almost 90,000 cases have been recorded in the last week of December.
He also added that there has been a dramatic decline in the cases in the past eight weeks and it is because of a combination of the introduction of public health measures and accumulating immunity and changes in the behavior of those who have been infected in the communities.
Nevertheless, the president has cautioned people against letting the guard down by people. But it is still mandatory to wear masks in public places but when fails to wear a mask when it is required, it is a criminal offense, according to the President.
He further added that they can emerge from the second wave as most people have adhered to tighter restrictions and basic health protocols are observed including social distancing and wearing masks in public.
The new alert level, which came into effect on Sunday from midnight, also included the curfew hours and it has been reduced to start at the midnight and it will end at 4 am. As a gathering of 100 people has been allowed, it will include cultural, political, and social gatherings and the sale of alcohol is also permitted based on normal license provisions barring the curfew hours as the President addressed the nation.
Night vigils, as well as other gatherings, are still not permitted before and after the funerals and it is still not permitted and the night clubs are going to remain closed.
The President has also said that the return to level-1 meant that most of the remaining restrictions have been removed on economic activity. This is expected to lead to higher consumer spending, and it is bolstered by the steady recovery in employment. The plans are expected to be implemented by the business that has been put on hold and it has cautioned people about the third wave.