President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday night further relaxed South Africa’s lockdown restrictions down to Alert Level One.

The president said hours of curfew are now from 12 midnight to 4 am, nonessential establishments such as bars, restaurants, and fitness centres must close at 11 pm.

Ramaphosa said indoor gatherings were now limited to 750 people, while outdoor gatherings have been increased to a maximum of 2 000.

However, the president warned that political campaign activities pose the greatest risk of infections. He urged parties to act responsibly and follow Covid-19 safety protocols.

Political parties are campaigning for the 1 November local government elections.

Ramaphosa said small venues are limited to not more than 50 percent of their capacity

He said funeral attendance was limited to a maximum of 100 people. Night vigils and “after tears” were still not allowed.

The sale of alcohol was now permitted onsite and offsite under normal licence conditions. However, the president said no alcohol may be sold after 11 pm.

Ramaphosa said mask-wearing in public was still mandated.

He said more restrictions could be lifted if more people were vaccinated.

The president said the government was introducing “Vuma Weekends” to encourage more people to get vaccinated. The jabs are free.

The relaxation of lockdown restrictions comes as the number of new Covid-19 cases has been significantly reduced while the number of vaccinated people was rising.

Ramaphosa’s address follows meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council, the President’s Coordinating Council, and Cabinet.

The president focussed on the intensification of the vaccination campaign, opening the economy, introduction of a vaccination passport, and the UK’s placement of South Africa on its Red List.

More than 17 million jabs have been administered in South Africa with 8.6 million fully vaccinated.

“We can save 20 000 lives if the majority of us are vaccinated,” said Ramaphosa.

He said the Health Department would soon introduce a vaccination passport.

Ramaphosa also revealed he had spoken to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek ways of removing South Africa from that country’s restrictive Red List.

The president said he was hopeful of a positive outcome.

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