SA on Alert Level 1 for the Easter weekend, with restrictions on alcohol and religious gatherings

President Ramaphosa confirmed that the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme will start in mid-May with registrations for the vaccine opening in April.

SA on Alert Level 1 for the Easter weekend, with restrictions on alcohol and religious gatherings

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on 30 March just before the Easter weekend.

After consultations with experts, provincial and local government and religious and traditional leaders, the president has decided to keep South Africa on Alert Level 1 of the Covid-19 lockdown.

President Ramaphosa explained, “Given the relatively low transmission levels, we have decided to keep the country on coronavirus Alert Level 1. However, due to the specific circumstances of this period, we need to make a few adjustments.”

The president left various rules unchanged for the Easter period, including maintaining the curfew between midnight and 4am, allowing public recreational spaces such as beaches, parks and dams to remain open, restricting funerals to a maximum of 100 people with a two-hour limit on services and permitting interprovincial travel.

However, President Ramaphosa said that due to the role alcohol has in fuelling reckless behaviour, the sale of liquor for off-site consumption has been suspended from 2 to 5 April.

“The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited this coming Friday [2 April], Saturday, Sunday and Monday. On-site sales of alcohol at restaurants, shebeens and bars will be allowed. Such establishments can only sell alcohol for on-site consumption under the conditions that they are permitted to sell alcohol and only until 11pm every night.”

The number of people that will be permitted to attend religious gatherings has also been increased. After various consultations and discussions with religious leaders, the president decided to increase the allowed capacity during the Easter weekend.

“Following this consultation, it has been determined that religious gatherings over this period will be restricted to a total number of 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.”

The president added that where the venue is too small to accommodate such numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used. Non-religious events taking place over the Easter period have also been allowed to accommodate the same number of people and the same conditions apply for smaller venues.

President Ramaphosa also provided an update on the national vaccination drive. According to the president, the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme will start in mid-May with registrations for the vaccine scheduled to start in April. “People will be encouraged to register online, but those without online access will be able to register in person. To ensure that we have supporting infrastructure, over 2 000 vaccination sites have been identified across the country.”

These include general practitioners’ rooms, community clinics and pharmacies, retail outlets and, in some instances, larger facilities like stadiums and conference centres.

The president added that an Electronic Vaccination Data System has already been established to manage the vaccine roll-out and direct people towards vaccination sites closest to where they live.

The government is also working through its provincial and district structures and community-based organisations to register those who do not have access to technology and is currently developing mechanisms to identify and register undocumented persons so that they too can be vaccinated.

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