On Saturday, August 15, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving into Level 2 of its five-stage coronavirus disease (COVID-19) alert system as of midnight on Monday, August 17. Level 2 lockdown measures will see most current restrictions in place lifted and the resumption of economic activity across most industries. Authorities also announced that amid the easing of restrictions, the national state of disaster will be extended to September 15.
The nightly curfew which runs between 22:00 and 04:00 (local time) will remain in place. Most businesses will be permitted to operate outside of the curfew hours, though individuals continue to be encouraged to work from home. Restaurants, bars, and taverns will be permitted to open, according to approved protocols including limits to capacity and operating hours. The ban on tobacco products will be lifted and alcohol sales will be allowed, under certain restrictions. According to reports, liquor outlets will be permitted to sell alcohol from Monday to Thursday, between 09:00 and 17:00. Restaurants, bars, and establishments licensed to offer on-site consumption of alcohol will be permitted to do so until 22:00.
Social visits between family members will be permitted. However, all gatherings remain limited to no more than 50 people, including at funerals and religious events. Public spaces, including parks, beaches, and nature reserves may be used for outdoor activity. Gyms and fitness centers will be permitted to reopen. Sporting events are permitted, however, without spectators. The number of people allowed in retail stores, restaurants, cinemas, and all other public spaces will be limited and social distancing must continue to be observed by all. Face masks will remain mandatory for all individuals to wear in public.
Restrictions on inter-provincial travel will be lifted, however, the restrictions on international travel will remain in place. Hotels and accommodation facilities have resumed operations and under level 2 they will be able to reopen for leisure travel between provinces, following strict hygiene and social distancing protocols and continue limitations on the number of guests permitted.
As of August 15, there have been 583,653 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa and 11,677 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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