SUMMARY: South Africa moves to adjusted Alert Level 3

Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa announced South Africa will move from Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions to adjusted Level 3 on Sunday.

"My fellow South Africans, since I last addressed you 14 days ago, we have been fighting a battle on two fronts – the first against the deadly coronavirus, the second against the actions of those who have sought to create instability and chaos," he said.

READ: COVID-19 in SA: 9,718 new cases identified

The president said new COVID-19 infections are being driven by the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than previous variants, and raised concerns about new daily infections in provinces like the Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal, and the Northern Cape.

Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of wearing masks at all times when in public, keeping distance from others, and ensuring a flow of fresh air with others.

"The overall decline in new infections means that it is possible to gradually ease some of the restrictions on gatherings, movement and the sale of alcohol."

The president announced that based on the recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, and inputs from the President’s Coordinating Council, Cabinet, the country be moved from Adjusted Alert Level 4 and be placed on Alert Level 3.

  • The hours of the curfew will begin at 10 pm and end at 4 am.
  • Inter-provincial travel for leisure may resume.
  • Non-essential establishments like restaurants, taverns, bars and fitness centres may be opened. These establishments will, however, need to close by 9 pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew
  • Gatherings will be allowed but will be limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used."
  • Gatherings include religious services, political events and social gatherings.
  • The limits on venue capacity also apply to restaurants, gyms, fitness centres, bars, taverns and similar places.
  • Attendance at funerals and cremations may not exceed 50 people and all social distancing and health protocols must be observed.
  • Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings are not allowed.
  • The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will be permitted between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday to Thursday.
  • Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 8 pm.
  • Schools will re-open on Monday 26 July, according to strict health protocols and other measures announced by the Minister of Basic Education.
  • It remains mandatory for every person to wear a face mask that always covers their nose and mouth at all times when in public spaces.

People between the ages of 18 and 34 are to be vaccinated from 1 September 2021 and will be able to present themselves at a vaccination site without an appointment and be registered and vaccinated.

"I urge all South Africans to register for vaccination as soon as they are eligible, whether online, via WhatsApp or USSD, or by calling the toll-free number on 0800 029 999."

"As a result of our negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and various developed economy governments have, our country and our continent has been able to secure vaccines and is able to manufacture vaccines on our continent," he said.

READ: Pfizer/BioNTech to produce COVID-19 vaccine in SA

Cape Town-based Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, known as "fill and finish", the companies said in a statement.

The project will take time to get off the ground, however, with the first African-finished vaccines not expected before 2022.

WATCH | Violence in SA | Loads of looted goods seized

The president also announced measures to address the violence that took place in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

"Fellow South Africans, two weeks ago, the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were hit by deliberate, planned, and coordinated acts of violence designed to create the conditions for unrest," he said.

"This led to the loss of more than 300 lives, the looting of shops, warehouses and factories, damage to critical infrastructure, and disruption of the country’s economy."

WATCH | We will meet force with force - SANDF

The president announced the SANDF will remain in areas regarded as potential hotspots, as well as key economic and government infrastructure, shopping centres, warehouses, and factories.

He also announced a range of relief measures to support the recovery of the economy and the poor.

  • The Social Relief of Distress Grant, providing a monthly payment of R350, will be reinstated until the end of March 2022. The number of people who are eligible for this grant has also been expanded by allowing unemployed caregivers who currently receive a child support grant to apply.
  • The government is also contributing R400-million to the Humanitarian Crisis Relief Fund to assist with the immediate needs of affected communities.
  • Businesses that are insured will be covered by Sasria and the government will announce support measures for uninsured businesses affected by the violence.
  • The UIF will provide income support to those who have lost jobs as a result of the unrest and will be effecting payments as quickly as possible to support workers who have not received an income.
  • The Employment Tax Incentive will also be expanded for four months to include any employee earning below R6,500 and to increase the incentive amount by up to R750 per month.
  • The payment of excise taxes by the alcohol sector will be deferred for a period of three months, to ease the burden on the sector as it recovers.
  • The government will also defer payment of PAYE taxes for a period of three months to provide businesses with additional cash flow, with an automatic deferral of 35 percent of PAYE liabilities for employers with revenue below R100-million.

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