President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to move the country to alert level 3, lifting the ban on alcohol and allowing for small gatherings when he addresses the nation on Sunday evening.

This comes as the Covid-19 third wave shows signs of easing and the government’s vaccination rollout programme gains steam.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale could not confirm the scheduled address. 

“We will make an announcement in the course of the afternoon,” he said.

The country has been under level 4 of the adjusted lockdown regulations for a month.

Under level 4, all gatherings were banned, except for funerals, and the sale of alcohol was prohibited. Initially restaurants were allowed only  to sell takeaways, but this was slightly eased two weeks ago to allow sit-down meals.

Leisure travel to and from Gauteng was also banned, with the province still the epicentre of the country’s third wave.

A source, who was part of the president's co-ordination council meeting, said  alcohol sales would be permitted for off-site consumption from Monday to Thursday, until 6pm. On-site consumption would to be allowed for licensed establishments, but only until 8pm.

Meanwhile, gatherings, including religious and sports gatherings, were also expected to be allowed, with 50 people allowed for indoor and 100 people outdoor events.  

The Gauteng travel ban was also expected to be lifted, as indications are that Covid-19 cases, hospitalisation and deaths were dropping.  

Public transport long-distance travel was expected to be allowed at 70% capacity. Another government source has confirmed the information.

Ramaphosa was also expected to adjust the curfew, which will now be from 10pm to 4am.

As schools were expected to reopen on Monday, basic education minister Angie Motshekga told members of the media on Saturday that it was all systems go.

Nightclubs would remain closed. 

The president was also expected to encourage people to work from home as the country was not out of the woods yet.

Director-general of government communications Phumla Williams could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.