COVID-19 infections decreasing, more vaccines secured, Ramaphosa assures SA

Hours after receiving the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccinations, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of lockdown regulations - allowing the sale of alcohol and regilious gatherings.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on 1 February 2021 on government's latest efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN – A drop in the number of new coronavirus infections has paved the way for more relaxed lockdown regulations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a lift on the ban on the sale of alcohol, as well as the reintroduction of faith-based-gatherings under strict COVID-19 rules.

Government has also relaxed regulations regarding public places, with access to beaches, dams, rivers, parks and public swimming now allowed, subject to health protocols.

In his address on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa assured the nation that government had secured more COVID-19 vaccines for the country from pharmaceutical companies Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer, and the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team of the African Union.

However, the President pointed out that South Africans would not be forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

The country has passed the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic's second wave, as the average rate of new coronavirus infections gradually decreased over the past three weeks.

There was also a drop in the number of people hospitalised with the disease as well as COVID-19 fatalities.

President Ramaphosa said that this had been taken into consideration, and government has decided to relax regulations under Adjusted Level 3 of the lockdown.

“Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will be eased. The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for off-site consumption will be permitted from Mondays to Thursdays, from 10am to 6pm."

Alcohol sales by licensed entities for on-site consumption were now permitted throughout the week from 10am in the morning until 10pm at night.

Ramaphosa stressed that the number of new cases being recorded were still high and required that some restrictions to remain in place.

"Social gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds will not be permitted.”

Government reiterated the individual responsibility of South Africans to adhere to safety measures to stave off contracting the coronavirus.

MORE VACCINES

In a bid to secure heard immunity against the COVID-19 pandemic, government has secured vaccines from a number of sources.

Twelve million doses are set to come from the global COVAX facility - 2 million doses of this batch are expected by March.

President Ramaphosa said that 9 million vaccine doses from Johnson&Johson were expected to arrive in the second quarter of this year.

Ramaphosa has emphasised officials are in "advanced negotiations" to make more COVID-19 vaccines available in the country.

The African continent is set to receive 1 billion vaccines through the African Union's African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

WATCH: Lockdown adjusted: Church gatherings permitted; alcohol sales ban lifted

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