During his address to the nation on Sunday 28 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the curfew hours that have been in place since the beginning of February have been shortened, with the South African public now required to remain in their homes from 00:00 until 4:00.
The change comes as the country moves to Level 1 lockdown, a decision that government was confident to make due to the drastically reduced spread of COVID-19 since overcoming the surge that faced the public over the festive season. The changes come into effect from midnight on Sunday when the latest government gazette is published.
Curfew times changed
Ramaphosa said that apart from essential workers who are euqipped with permits, no one will be able to leave their place of residence between the hours starting from midnight until 4:00.
In addition, establishments like restaurants and bars must close their doors by 23:00 to allow their customers and staff to return home in time safely.
This will come as a welcome relief to those who work in the restaurant industry, which has found itself hamstrung by the requirement that they close their kitchens and bars at 22:00 in order to allow for their staff to safely make their way home an hour before the curfew comes into effect.
The curfew has also completely eradicated any possibility for nightclubs and other venues that thrive off of clientele support that is enjoyed late into the night to operate, and it seems they will have to suffer the adverse consequences of lockdown for a little longer.
President warns public not to succumb to complacency
Ramaphosa warned however, that although regulations and restrictions have been significantly eased, the public cannot afford to let its guard down and risk compromising the hard work and sacrifice that led South Africa to this point.
“As we ease restrictions, we cannot let our guard down. The few remaining restrictions under Alert Level 1 are meant to maintain low levels of infections and, in particular, to prevent super-spreading events,” he said.
“Wearing a mask and avoiding crowds is even more important [than before],” he said.