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Party on: Curfew, booze restrictions will be dropped, govt just announced

Business Insider SA
Level 4 lockdown
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  • Lockdown rules are changing dramatically, the government announced on Thursday night.
  • Curfew is being dropped, and so are booze sale limitations.
  • Big gatherings have also been okayed.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

New Year's parties are on, with government lifting major restrictions that would have hampered parties.

The Presidency announced the update to lockdown regulations on Thursday night, saying a decline in coronavirus cases nationally, and a health system coping well, meant restrictions could be relaxed.

A special Cabinet meeting on Thursday had approved changes to the current Adjusted Alert Level 1, the Presidency said in a statement.

"All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level," it said.

See also | You can be on the beach at midnight but you can’t drink: SA’s new lockdown rules unpacked

"While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves."

The changes are due to come into force immediately, the Presidency said. 

Here's what's due to change in the lockdown rules.

No more curfew

The curfew that has kept South Africans home, previously from 23:00 and currently from midnight, will be lifted, the government said.

"There will therefore be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people," said the Presidency in a statement.

Various groups had been advocating for curfew to be dropped in time for New Year's celebrations.

Big gatherings have been okayed

Limits on gatherings will now be set at 2,000 people outdoors, and 1,000 people indoors. Social distancing is still required, though, so if a venue isn't big enough for people to stay apart, then only 50% of the capacity may be used.

The new rules specifically apply to restaurants, shebeens, and taverns, so those with enough space may host a thousand people indoors for New Year's Eve.

"The risk of increase in infections is still 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," read the statement.

Booze can be sold as late as licence conditions allow

Booze sales were previously limited until 23:00. With curfew lifted, that too falls away, so bars, restaurants, and shebeens go back to their normal licensed hours – which means some can sell alcohol all night long.

Booze may still not be consumed in any public place other than licensed premises, so drinking in parks and on beaches remains banned.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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