The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has shed light on the new regulations for Alert level 1 on Friday, September 18.
This is after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced earlier in the week that the country would be moving to Level 1 at midnight on Sunday, September 20.
South Africans will soon be able to give their friends and family the best send off, as more mourners will be permitted to attend funerals from Monday under alert Level 1.
Religious gatherings have also been given the green light to accommodate hundreds of worshippers.
According to the Minister, funerals can now have 100 people, up from the 50 allowed under Level 2. However, night vigils are still prohibited.
“If your venue is small and cannot take a 100 people at 1.5 metres apart, then you must use half the capacity,” she explained.
Meanwhile, health protocols such as the washing of hands, sanitising and wearing of masks still apply.
“We know that funerals are super-spreaders because of the activities at the funerals, where people are singing, consoling one another. It means the chance of spreading the virus is higher,” the Minister explained.
Also, the wearing of masks remains a non-negotiable. “If you leave your house, you wear a mask. When you enter the building, the owner of the building should ensure you wear a mask. That is a must,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, churches will be allowed to house a maximum of 250 congregants no matter how big the venue is.
“If your venue can’t allow for social distancing, then you cannot have 250 people. You have to have less or half the size of the venue.”
According to the Minister, this goes for other social gatherings too, such as weddings.
Mzansi not out of the woods yet
For outdoor gatherings, not more than 500 people; while gyms are now allowed to have 50% of the capacity of the venue.
The minister acknowledged that the past six months under the lockdown – aimed at reducing and mitigating the risk of the dangerous Coronavirus – have been difficult and testing.
While the country is opening for more activity, Dlamini-Zuma warned against complacency even though the rate of infections is increasing.
“The virus has the feature of being silent, but very efficient… It also loves crowds…” she cautioned.
However, the “virus remains a threat” as more people will be out and about, Dlamini-Zuma told the media.
The Minister thanked citizens for their collective efforts and the sacrifices made it possible for the move to level 1.
“By observing the health and hygienic protocols; we have ensured that our limited health capacity is efficiently used and is sufficient to all those who needed care.
“By following the regulations, we had to adjust our approach from time to time to respond to this virus and it has enabled us to make this progress thus far,” she added.
Government to keep close eye on borders
Government says while a ban will be put in place for international countries still experiencing high infection rates when South Africa reopens its border for global travelers, this will be reviewed regularly.
While South Africa will move to lockdown Level 1 on Monday, international border gates will reopen on 1 October 2020.
“International travel on the continent is allowed to and from all countries. However, for other international travel, there will be a schedule of countries where infections are high, which will temporarily not be allowed, until such time their infections get under control.
“Even for these countries, [the ban is] not permanent. It will depend what happens to their infections [and when] they come under control, they will be allowed.
“The Health Minster will make sure that the affected countries are properly identified. I don’t know the exact date [for the list publication] but it will be before we start travelling… This is not a static list and it will be changing all the time,” said Dlamini-Zuma.