Country moves to Level 1 lockdown

Because of the drop in new cases of Covid-19 in the country the President has announced a relaxation of the lockdown regulations. It's good news for those who like to stay up late, or wake up early, but there are still many restrictions in place and Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated that the chance of a third wave, or the arrival of new variants are still things we have to be concerned about.

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It is almost one year since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in South Africa - and 11 months since the country went into the unprecedented national 'lockdown' which has become so normal.  The initial three weeks has dragged on an on with varying levels of restriction on work, varsity and social life.

The term 'family meeting' has also been introduced into our colloquial dictionaries with us regularly listening out to the President's words to hear how our lives will be impacted in the battle to gain control over the highly contagious Covid-19. 

This Sunday's family meeting was shorter than usual, and also unusually for the last few months brought some good news! Because of the continued drop in cases as the second wave has subsided the national Cabinet has decided to relax the restrictions from lockdown level 3 to level 1.

There aren't too many changes. The curfew is still in place but the hours are reduced from midnight to 4am.

The restrictions on the hours that you can buy alcohol are relaxed. It can now be purchased during normal licensing hours. That means that the hours that used to be in place before the restrictions will be back. Except that alcohol can't be sold between midnight and 4am.

The bad news for fans of night clubs is that they are still closed.

Religious, social, political and cultural gatherings are allowed again - but only up to a maximum of 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. Venues also cannot accommodate more than 50% of their normal capacity. Night vigils and 'after tears' events are still not allowed.

The 33 land border posts that have been closed throughout this period will remain closed, while the other 20 will remain open.

The new rules come into effect from the 1st of March.

So not too much has changed but things are getting a little bit back to normal.

The wearing of masks when outdoors remains compulsory.

The President highlighted the action the government had taken with SASSA grants and the UIF payments to try to help South Africans who are struggling. However he also emphasised that the government does not have a lot of money right now.  

He is hoping that consumer spending will start to grow again and that companies will start to implement some of the expansion plans that were put on ice when the pandemic hit.

The President's hopes for a return to some sort of normal, and to growth, and tempered with a warning.  "The threat of a third wave is constantly present, as is the threat of yet more new variants," warned Ramaphosa. "As we witnessed last year, our actions as individuals and as a collective will determine whether and how soon we experience a resurgence of the virus".

You can read the President's full speech here.

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