South Africa will start to ease several Covid-19 restrictions as infection rates decrease in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday.
Amongst other measures, the nationwide curfew will be reduced to 11pm until 4am, the size of gatherings can increase to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors, and restrictions on alcohol sales will be further reduced. The measures will be reviewed in two weeks, he said.
Ramaphosa said the country now has enough vaccine doses to cover the entire adult population, with more than a quarter of adults receiving at least one dose.
The president encouraged everyone to get vaccinated to allow the country to get back to normal.
“If many people are not vaccinated and remain vulnerable to infection, the chance of new and more dangerous variants could emerge,” he said.
He added that vaccine passports or certificates “that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events” are being discussed.
Some citizens have decried the proposed vaccine passport likening it to apartheid era pass laws that required Black South Africans to carry a document, known as ‘dompas,’ to show their authorization to be in certain places.
“Vaccine passports? I like my freedom, thanks. You can keep your medical dompas. This is going to end up in the Constitutional Court. No doubt about that,” wrote Twitter user Dwayne Esau.
South African researchers have been keeping an eye on a new variant C.1.2 they say has appeared in South Africa, as well as in seven other countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
A strict lockdown
In recent days, the wave has been easing considerably in most provinces. The Health Ministry reported 3,961 new cases Sunday, an improvement from the 15,036 new cases on June 27 just before lockdown was imposed.
However, Ramaphosa warned that the third wave is yet to end, imploring citizens to comply with health precautions in order to contain the pandemic.
“The third wave is not yet over, and it is only through our actions individually and collectively that we will be able to reduce the number of new infections,” he said.
This comes amid a slow vaccine rollout across the continent which the President dubbed as “vaccine apartheid” in June.