In a national address on Sunday evening, the president said that the country is making progress in its fight against the coronavirus.
The latest figures suggest the country has largely passed the third wave of Covid-19 infections, although there are still some areas of concern, he said.
He said that the last 28 days of restrictions have been effective in reducing cases, with the country averaging around 12,000 new cases each day.
While Gauteng has seen a marked decrease in cases, Ramaphosa said cases had increased in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.
There has also been a concerning rise of infections in the Northern Cape after a period of relative stability,” Ramaphosa said.
In all of these areas, the president said that the increase in infections was being driven by the Delta-variant of Covid-19.
The National Institute For Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 9,718 new Covid-19 cases in South Africa, taking the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,377,823.
This increase represents a 26.6% positivity rate. As per the National Department of Health, a further 287 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported over the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 69,775 to date.
As the cases decrease, Ramaphosa said that the country will move to an adjusted lockdown level 3, with restrictions to be eased in the following areas:
- The evening curfew will remain in place from 22h00 – 04h00;
- Interprovincial travel can resume;
- Non-essential establishments, such as restaurants, gyms and fitness centres, can operate but must close by 21h00;
- The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will be permitted between 10h00 and 21h00 from Monday to Thursday. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 20h00;
- Gatherings are allowed but are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Only 50 people are allowed to attend funerals;
- Schools will be allowed to reopen as of Monday (26 July).
These changes will come into effect as soon as they are gazetted later on Sunday evening. “In other words, they are with immediate effect,” Ramaphosa stated.
In the coming weeks, Ramaphosa said that government will substantially increase the rate of vaccinations.
“We are increasing the number of vaccination sites and improving the vaccination registration system. We will also increase our vaccination capacity on weekends,” he said.
“We will now allow people between the ages of 18 and 34 to be vaccinated from the 1st of September 2021. This will be in addition to the age groups that are currently eligible, which is everyone over 35 years of age.”
The president said that people will be able to present themselves at a vaccination site without an appointment and be registered and vaccinated.
This substantial increase in the rate of vaccination is made possible by improvements in the supply of vaccines, he said.
“Within the next two to three months, we are scheduled to receive around 31 million additional doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. This supply pipeline means that there will be sufficient vaccine doses available for the rest of the year,” he said.
Unrest and violence
Ramaphosa also undressed the unrest and looting which impacted KZN and Gauteng earlier this month. “To address these two crises, we have to take several actions at once,” he said.
- Firstly, we have to contain the spread of the coronavirus and limit its impact on economic activity.
- Secondly, we have to accelerate our vaccination programme so that the vast majority of adult South Africans can be vaccinated before the end of the year.
- Thirdly, we need to ensure that peace and stability is maintained throughout the country and that there are no further incidents of violence.
- Fourthly, in response to both the pandemic and the recent violence, we need to provide support and relief to poor households, in order to alleviate the hardships they are going through and reduce hunger.
- Fifthly, we need to help businesses to rebuild. These are businesses affected by looting and destruction of property and those affected by the pandemic and the necessary measures we have taken to contain it.
- Finally, we need to accelerate the implementation of our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to rebuild our economy, create employment and drive inclusive growth.