Coronavirus pandemic: South Africa moves to alert level one!
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in a televised address to the nation on 16 September 2020 that South Africa will move to alert level one of the country’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of COVID-19 at midnight on 20 September 2020. The move will mean a further easing of restrictions on gatherings (with effect from 20 September 2020) as well as a gradually and cautiously easing of restrictions on international travel (with effect from 01 October 2020). This move recognises that levels of infection in South Africa are relatively low and that there is sufficient capacity in the country’s health system to manage the current need.
Restrictions on gatherings (with effect from 20 September 2020):
- Social, religious, political and other gatherings will be permitted, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue, up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings.
- Health protocols, such as washing or sanitising of hands, social distancing and mask-wearing, will need to be strictly observed.
- The maximum number of people who may attend a funeral is increased from 50 to 100 due to the higher risk of viral transmission at funerals. Night vigils are still not permitted.
- Venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment – such as gyms and theatres – which were limited to no more than 50 people, will now be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their venue’s capacity as determined by available floor space, subject to social distancing and other health protocols.
- Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place.
Restrictions on international travel (with effect from 01 October 2020):
- Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. A list of countries will be published based on the latest scientific data.
- Travellers will only be able to use one of the land border posts that have remained operational during the lockdown or one of the three main airports: King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban, OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town.
- On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure.
- Where a traveller has not done a COVID-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
- All travellers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted.
- All travellers will be asked to install the “COVID Alert South Africa” mobile app.
In preparation for the re-opening of the country’s borders, South African missions abroad will open for visa applications and all long-term visas will be reinstated.
The following restrictions will also change in alert level one (with effect from 20 September 2020):
- The hours of curfew have been changed. The curfew will now apply between midnight and 04:00.
- The sale of alcohol at retail outlets for home consumption is now permitted from Monday to Friday, from 09:00 to 17:00.
- Alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only and with strict adherence to the curfew.
According to President Ramaphosa, the updated regulations will be published In the next few days and Ministers will provide detailed briefings. We’ll keep you posted!