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Push to end all Covid and lockdown restrictions in South Africa


The Western Cape provincial government is pushing for the lifting of all Covid restrictions in South Africa, citing growing economic concerns across the country.

Premier Alan Winde and representatives from the provincial department of health are scheduled to give a press briefing on Tuesday (7 June) with data showing that the restrictions are no longer necessary.

“The focus will be on Premier Winde’s call for the end of Covid-19 restrictions. There has been a continued decoupling between Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths in the Western Cape, demonstrating that we can now safely do away with existing restrictions,” the Western Cape government said.

“This is vital because we are continuing to see record-high unemployment levels in South Africa, compounded by ongoing load-shedding and the rising cost of living. The major fuel price increases this week are a serious warning to us all and it should be treated as the major crisis that it is, and prompt immediate action.”

The call to end restrictions comes after researchers this week said that restrictions were largely ineffective in preventing virus transmission in the country.

Writing in the latest issue of the  South African Journal of Science (SAJS), vaccinology professor at Wits University, Shabir Madhi and professor of Education at Stellenbosch University Jonathan Jansen, said that the experience over the past 27 months clearly demonstrates that lockdowns and many Covid-19 regulations in South Africa largely failed in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections from transpiring.


Regulations 

While South Africa has ended its national state of disaster, a number of regulations remain on gatherings and mask-wearing.

The current regulations, introduced at the start of May, include the following:

Masks 

Some of the key regulations around masks which remain in effect include:

  • The wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in an indoor public place – including public transport.
  • The health minister has the power to lift regulations around masks when he deems they are no longer necessary.

Gatherings

All gatherings are permitted at 50% of the venue capacity:

  • Provided persons are fully vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination certificate; or
  • Unvaccinated but in possession of a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of the gathering,.

Alternatively, gatherings are permitted for the unvaccinated and those without tests, but are limited to 1,000 persons or fewer for indoor venues and 2,000 persons or fewer for outdoor venues.

If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least one metre from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.

Travel 

Travel into South Africa is permitted provided:

  • Fully vaccinated people must, upon arrival at the land border, produce a valid vaccination certificate; and
  • Unvaccinated people must, upon arrival, provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 test, recognised by the World Health Organisation, which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel. They may also produce a negative antigen test provided it was not taken 48 hours before travel, or a certificate showing they have tested positive for Covid within the last 90 days.

Outbound travellers from South Africa must continue to comply with the requirements of the country of destination.


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