South Africa has lifted the curfew in time for New Year’s Eve celebrations and much bigger crowds will be allowed to party.
After a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, the Presidency said: “Based on the trajectory of the pandemic, the levels of vaccination in the country and the available capacity within the health sector … the curfew will be lifted”.
The Presidency added: “There will therefore be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people. Gatherings are restricted to no more than 1 000 people indoors and no more than 2 000 people outdoors.
“Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used. All other restrictions remain in place.”
The announcement of relaxed Covid-19 prevention restrictions comes at a time when all indications are that South Africa is past the peak of the fourth wave.
However, the Presidency warned that the risk of an increase in infections was still high given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
“Government, therefore, calls on all organisers of these gatherings to ensure that all health protocols are observed at all times and that all attendees are encouraged to be vaccinated,” said the Presidency.
“Alcohol establishments that have licences to operate beyond 23h00 will revert back to full licence conditions.”
The NCCC will continue to closely monitor the situation and will make further adjustments as necessary, particularly if pressure on health facilities increases.
The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, and failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence.
South Africans are urged to continue observing basic health protocols to prevent the transmission of the virus.
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. This includes people who are eligible for booster shots,” said the Presidency.
“Parents are reminded to support their children aged 12 years and older to use this opportunity to vaccinate before schools open.
“This will avoid learners losing school time as a result of testing positive or as a result of contact with people infected with Covid-19.
“Government wishes to commend all South Africans who have observed the health regulations and protocols over the festive season.”
The Presidency urged everyone to continue to act cautiously and responsibly over the new year and for the remainder of the holiday season.