South Africans welcoming 2022 no doubt expressed cautious relief after a number of significant changes to lockdown restrictions were announced.
According to a statement released by minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele, the decision to revise the adjusted alert level 1 regulations came after meetings between the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Co-ordinating Council (PCC).
The department of health recorded a nearly 30% decline in the number of new cases being reported in the week of December 25 2021, with only the Western Cape and Eastern Cape recording 14% and 18% increases respectively.
“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there have been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves.
“This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services,” Gungubele said.
Under the new regulations the curfew has been fully lifted and full licence conditions have been restored for establishments licensed to sell liquor after 11pm.
Gatherings are restricted to a total of 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors. For smaller venues, gatherings cannot exceed 50% of total capacity.
The wearing of masks when in public places remains compulsory and failure to do so is a criminal offence.
“Vaccination remains the best defence against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from Covid-19.
“All people in South Africa who have not yet done so are encouraged to vaccinate as soon as possible,” said Gungubele.
“This includes people who are eligible for booster shots.”
Parents were also encouraged to vaccinate all children over the age of 12 before schools reopened to minimise the risk of infection.