President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that South Africa will be moving to Level 1 lockdown at midnight on Sunday, barely a month after Level 2 changes came into effect. This rapid-fire move through the gears will be a blessing for a battered economy, after COVID-19 cases continued to decline sharply on our shores.

When will South Africa move to Level 1?

Ramaphosa made his 19:00 address with a rare bit of good news for us all. Mzansi is beginning to get a foothold in the battle against coronavirus, but absolutely nothing has been won yet. The president was keen to remind South Africans to continue wearing masks and insisted that social distancing would remain in place for the time being.

Level 1 is the lightest form of lockdown, even if several key restrictions still remain in place. It’s a move that’s been backed strongly by the Medical Advisory Committee, and there has been little push-back from political opponents.

How South Africa moved through its lockdown levels

In total, it has taken South Africa six months to move from Level 5 to Level 1. The tumultuous road to this point has been littered with flashpoints and controversial decisions, however…

Everything from cigarettes to cooked foods were removed from supermarket shelves in a bid to limit the spread of the virus. During the tougher stages of lockdown, three-hour exercise windows and the withdrawal of retail items ended up causing a stir. Alcohol was also banned for more than 100 days, during two separate periods of prohibition.

Level 1 regulations: What are the biggest changes?

In August, bans on tobacco and alcohol were lifted, and in the weeks that have followed, neither deaths nor new cases have shown an increase. Level 1 will unlock even more civil liberties – once the rules are officially gazetted – and we can now expect to see these changes come into effect at midnight on Sunday (or 00:01 on Monday):

  • A maximum of 250 people can attend indoor gatherings, with up to 500 allowed at outdoor gatherings.
  • No venue or facility can host more than 50% of its capacity.
  • Gyms and theatres are allowed to accommodate 50% of all seating options.
  • Restrictions on crowds at sporting events remain in place.
  • International travel will be allowed from 1 October – but that’s subject to several caveats (you can read about them here).
  • Curfew hours have changed to 00:00 – 4:00.
  • You now have an extra day to buy alcohol from the liquor store: Retailers will open from Monday – Friday
  • More details will be published on these changes in due course.

This is a developing story and we will bring you more updates throughout the evening.

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Presh JM Reporter

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