In the so far shortest address of President Cyril Ramaphosa (under 30 minutes) the regulations pertaining to the Adjusted Alert Level 3 have been amended with effect from 2 February 2021 at 0h00::
- curfew is extended from 23:00 to 4:00;
- all indoor and outdoor faith-based gatherings are permitted but limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors and subject to social distance measures;
- other gatherings are still prohibited, except for certain excluded businesses including restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos;
- non-essential establishments, including bars, shops and restaurants, must close at 22:00 to allow arrival home before 23h00;
- funerals may only be attended by 50 people and subject to social distancing measures;
- any business premises must determine the maximum number of employees permitted on the premises, to accommodate a 1.5-meter distance between employees;
- every person is compelled to wear a mask in a public space. It remains a criminal offence not to do so, punishable by a fine or imprisonment;
- service of alcohol on-site (restaurants, bars) is permitted between 10:00 and 22:00;
- selling of alcohol of-site is permitted from Mondays to Thursdays between 10:00 and 18:00; and
- all beaches, dams, rivers, public parks, pools and lagoons are reopened.
Unfortunately the 20 land borders will remain closed for general purposes, except for the transport of fuel, cargo, goods, or for emergency medical treatment, South Africans returning home, diplomats and daily travellers to South Africa for educational purposes. The main three airports Johannesburg, cape Town and Durban remain open but Germany has imposed a ban on travellers from South Africa due to the new COVID-19 variant SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 as its reaction to vaccines is untested while spreading super-fast.
On a further important note the President has announced that 1.5 million untested and unlicensed vaccines from India (which have a doubtful efficacy below 60%) have arrived and distribution will start in 10 – 14 days. South Africa has so far secured twenty million doses, due to be delivered in the first half of 2021, according to President Ramaphosa. The balance have been secured through COVAX and the African Union and partly financed by a generous donation of MTN (Isn’t he the chairman of MTN?) and partly manufactured by Johnson & Johnson here in South Africa.
“The stunning reality is that it [South Africa] has neither a secured vaccine supply nor a plan for mass inoculation in the foreseeable future that can withstand scrutiny,” says the Progressive Health Forum, a group of leading medical experts in the country. The opposition Democratic Alliance has called on the government to give full details of its negotiations with vaccine suppliers and claims further the government only started to talk to vaccine suppliers in early January.
Fact is that South Africa missed all deadlines for securing vaccines via COVAX and has never talked to Oxford regarding Astra/Zeneca vaccines while Johnson & Johnson is not yet producing and production in South Africa is for other customers anyway. In consequence, South Africa will be commencing vaccination earliest from July 2021. Full stop.