South Africans can party all night long on New Year’s Eve as the government has scrapped the long-standing midnight to 4am curfew, along with some other regulations, with immediate effect.
“National Government has finally heeded our calls and put a complete end to the curfews. This is very welcome news and is long overdue,” said the City of Cape Town’s James Vos.
The announcement follows Vos’ recent submissions to the National Ministers of Tourism, Small Business, and Trade and Industry; as well as much petitioning to the National Government by many industry businesses and leaders.
“This will be a huge relief to the hundreds of thousands of workers in tourism and hospitality – the industries that have borne the brunt of the national lockdown and reduced trading time,” said Vos.
A special Cabinet meeting held earlier today, 30 December 2021, approved several changes to the Adjusted Alert Level 1 COVID-19 regulations. It follows meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), assessing updates on the 4th Covid-19 update in South Africa (driven mainly by the Omicron variant).
The Department of Health has reported a 29.7% decrease in the number of new cases detected in the week ending 25 December 2021 (89,781), compared to the number of new cases detected in the previous week (127,753).
All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level.
Cases declined in all provinces except the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, which recorded increases of 14% and 18%, respectively. There has been a decline in hospital admissions in all provinces except the Western Cape.
While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves. This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services. There is a marginal increase in the number of deaths in all the provinces.
Changes to COVID-19 regulations
Based on the trajectory of the pandemic, the levels of vaccination in the country and the available capacity within the health sector, Cabinet has decided to make the following changes to Adjusted Alert Level 1 with immediate effect:
- The curfew will be lifted. There will therefore be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people.
- Gatherings are restricted to no more than 1 000 people indoors and no more than 2 000 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used. All other restrictions remain in place.
The risk of increase in infections is still high given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant. The SA government therefore called on all organisers of these gatherings to ensure that all health protocols are observed at all times and that all attendees are encouraged to be vaccinated.
- Alcohol establishments that have licences to operate beyond 23h00 will revert back to full licence conditions.
The NCCC will continue to closely monitor the situation and will make further adjustments as necessary, particularly if pressure on health facilities increases.
- The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, and failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence.
South Africans are urged to continue observing basic health protocols to prevent the transmission of the virus. Vaccination remains the best defence against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19, said the government.
The government commended all South Africans who have observed the health regulations and protocols over the festive season; and urged everyone to continue to act cautiously and responsibly over the new year and for the remainder of the holiday season.
Cape Town’s Vos said: “In the many months – more than a year, in fact – that the City has been calling for an end to curfews, I have heard time and again from small business owners across Cape Town how they need every possible hour of trading to make an income and to better pay their staff. This update will mean that these businesses will be able to take full advantage of the remainder of this holiday season.
“In the meantime, my team and I will continue looking at all possibilities and avenues to get our industries and businesses functioning optimally. I will also continue engaging with National Government so that any obstacles to optimum trading activity are removed.”
Vos said Cape Town is looking at a study to see how the city can revive its 24-hour economic activity.
He also urged SMMEs and entrepreneurs to reach out to the City’s Business Helpdesk with any questions. You can contact them on 021 417 4043 or email email@example.com.