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South Africa relax lockdown restrictions

South Africa will move to lockdown alert level 1 from midnight on Sunday, 20 September. President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement during a live address to the nation on Wednesday evening.

The president said following consultations with provincial and local government representatives, and drawing on the advice of scientists and engagements with various stakeholders, the cabinet decided that the country should move to alert level 1.

Last week, the cabinet approved the extension of the COVID-19 national state of disaster to 15 October.

Two months ago, at the peak of the pandemic, South Africa was recording about 12 000 new cases a day. Currently, the country is on an average recording fewer than 2 000 cases a day. Ramaphosa said the move to level 1 recognizes that the levels of infection are relatively low and that there is sufficient capacity in the country’s health system to manage the current need.

Under alert level 1 social, religious, political, and other gatherings will be permitted, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue, up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings. Health protocols, such as washing or sanitizing hands, social distancing, and mask-wearing, will need to be strictly observed.

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