A government statement claimed on Thursday that South Africa has removed a ban on people’s mobility from midnight to 4 a.m. with immediate effect, thinking the country has passed the top of its fourth COVID-19 wave, which is driven by the Omicron variety.
According to a news statement published by Mondli Gungubele, a minister in the president, the country made the revisions based on the pandemic’s trajectory, levels of immunization in the country, and existing capacity in the health system.
South Africa is now on stage one of COVID-19’s five levels of alert.
“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” a statement from the special cabinet meeting held earlier on Thursday said.
Data from the Department of Health showed a 29.7% decrease in the number of new cases detected in the week ending Dec. 25 compared to the number of cases found in the previous week, at 127,753, the governmentsaid.
South Africa, with close to 3.5 million infections and 91,000 deaths, has been the worst-hit country in Africa during the pandemic on both counts.
Besides lifting the restrictions on public movement, the government said gatherings will be restricted to no more than 1,000 people indoors, and no more than 2,000 people outdoors.
It also ruled that alcohol shops with licenses to operate beyond 11 p.m. (2100GMT) may revert back to full license conditions, a welcome boon for traders and businesses hard hit by the pandemic and looking to recover during the festive season.
“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves,” cabinet said, adding that the wearing of masks in public places remained mandatory. Failure to wear a mask in South Africa when required remains a criminal offence.