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Khayalami Lounge at Duduza Tavern is shown during national lockdown level 2 in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, in this August 21 2020 file photo. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/OJ KOLOTI
Khayalami Lounge at Duduza Tavern is shown during national lockdown level 2 in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, in this August 21 2020 file photo. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/OJ KOLOTI

The government on Thursday lifted the midnight to 4am curfew with immediate effect, as the fourth wave peaked in SA.

The information gathered through the system used by the department of health has reported a 29.7% decrease in the number of new cases detected in the week ending December 25, 2021 [89,781], compared with the number of new infections detected in the previous week [127,753].

“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” the presidency said in a statement.

Cases had declined in all provinces except the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

Based on the trajectory of the pandemic, the levels of vaccination in the country and the available capacity within the health sector, the cabinet decided to make these changes to adjusted alert level 1 with immediate effect:

  • The curfew is lifted. There will therefore be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people.
  • Gatherings are restricted to no more than 1,000 people indoors and no more than 2,000 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.
  • All other restrictions remain in place

Alcohol establishments that have licences to operate beyond 11pm will revert to full licence conditions.

Changes to the alert level 1 regulations were approved by the cabinet after meetings of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) and the president’s co-ordinating council, which received updates on the management of the fourth wave.

However, the presidency said the risk of increase in infections remained high given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant. "Government therefore calls on all organisers of these gatherings to ensure that all health protocols are observed at all times and that all attendees are encouraged to be vaccinated.”

“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there have been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves. This means that the country has spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services. There is a marginal increase in the number of deaths in all the provinces,” read the statement.

The NCCC would continue to closely monitor the situation and, if needed, make further adjustments as necessary, particularly if pressure on health facilities increased.

“Vaccination remains the best defence against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from Covid-19. All people in SA who have not yet done so are encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as possible. This includes people who are eligible for booster shots.”

TimesLIVE

Update: December 31 2021
This article has been updated throughout with additional information

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