South Africa eases lockdown restrictions as new COVID-19 cases steadily decline

Harsher restrictions eased as country steadily emerges from third wave driven by the Delta variant.

During his address on Sunday evening, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announced stricter restrictions imposed 28 days ago will be eased as these seem to have borne fruit, with the average number of daily new infections reported over the past week dropping by a fifth to around 12,000 new cases a day, when compared to the previous week. The easing means the country will now be moved to Adjusted Alert Level 3, as of this evening. Significant progress has also been noted on the vaccination front following some disruptions in some parts of the country due to the unrest over the past two weeks. According to the president, the country was now administering more than 240,000 vaccines every weekday, compared to around 100,000 vaccines per weekday a month ago.

While Gauteng, the epicentre of the third wave, has seen a steady decline in new cases over the past two weeks, provinces such as the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had seen their cases continue to rise instead. The Northern Cape has also become a new source concern as cases rise after a period of relative stability. While the nationwide curfew will remain between 10:00 PM and 04:00 AM, all inter-provincial travel involving Gauteng will now be permitted. Non-essential establishments such as restaurants, taverns, bars and gyms will also be allowed to open until 09:00 PM. Schools will re-open from tomorrow and retail outlets will also be allowed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption between 10:00 AM and 06:00 PM from Monday to Thursday.