With COVID-19 cases dropping, South Africa’s president has announced that wearing masks outdoors is no longer compulsory, and vaccinated travellers entering the country are no longer required to present a negative PCR test.
Sports stadiums and music venues will be allowed to fill up to 50% of their capacity with those who have been vaccinated or have verified negative PCR testing thanks to the loosened regulations.
Since the outbreak began in 2020, South Africa has been the most struck by the coronavirus pandemic in Africa, with nearly 100,000 deaths and over 3.7 million cases. COVID-related mortality and serious sickness have decreased significantly in recent weeks.
According to health specialists, Omicron which was first discovered in southern Africa in November, caused a spike in the disease transmission. However, that wave has passed and South Africa is now in a phase of low transmission.
In a televised address recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa is managing its approach to the pandemic and “learning to live with the virus in our presence.”
He estimates that 60 percent to 80 percent of the country’s 60 million inhabitants have some level of protection to the virus due to vaccination or previous infection.
Ramaphosa said, “It means that we are opening our economy still further and that we are resuming many of the social and cultural activities that we have missed over the last two years.”
He went on to say that when the country’s state of disaster is lifted, the current restrictions would stay in force, and that the legislative framework that has regulated the COVID-19 pandemic response will remain in place.
Various sectors have pressed the government to eliminate COVID-19 restrictions, which have been blamed for the loss of 2 million jobs in a country with a 34 percent unemployment rate.
The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s largest opposition party, has demanded that the government remove all limitations.
“Despite some welcome changes, the persisting rules will harm jobs and increase poverty while providing no benefit at all,” said DA spokeswoman Siviwe Gwarube in a statement.
The party has promised to take the government to court if the regulations were made permanent.
– India’s new age travel digital media