Level one remains as Ramaphosa relaxes some COVID-19 restrictions

The president addressed the country on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time since the National Coronavirus Command Council downgraded the alert level to one in September.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The country has officially entered a watered-down version of the COVID-19 lockdown level one, with President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing several downgrades in restrictions on Wednesday night.

The president addressed the country on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time since the National Coronavirus Command Council downgraded the alert level to one in September.

READ: President Ramaphosa's full address to the nation

Now, South Africans can look forward to relaxed regulations, including normal operating hours for alcohol sales.

WATCH: Level 1 lockdown amended: Alcohol can now be sold at normal trading hours

President Ramaphosa maintained the government’s original line in dealing with the pandemic, which was always to balance the protection of lives and that of livelihoods.

In this regard, he announced that the country would be transitioning to a new phase in its response to the virus, with a rapid and sustained economic recovery top of the list.

ALSO READ: War against COVID-19 far from over, says Ramaphosa

However, this means that the economy will be opened even wider, as Ramaphosa explains: "We are amending the alert level 1 regulations to restore the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol at retail outlets. We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate."

The president, however, also announced that the midnight to 4am curfew would remain in place.

WATCH: Ramaphosa extends national state of disaster to 15 December

President Ramaphosa announced that the country's national state of disaster had been extended by another month to the middle of December.

This as he expressed concern over the upcoming festive season which involves mass inter-provincial travel and large social gatherings.

He pleaded with South Africans to keep to the rules to try stifle the spread of the virus.

He also urged the nation to mark in a five-day period of mourning in the coming weeks to remember those who'd died of COVID-19.

"We've lost many lives to this pandemic. Many of us have had to bid farewell to a loved one, a friend or a colleague. As we look back on the year, it's been a year of much pain and sorrow."

Over 20,000 South Africans have succumbed to the disease.

WATCH: Ramaphosa declares 5 days of mourning for COVID-19 victims

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