South Africa has been moved to alert level 4 with effect from Monday, 28 June 2021, as a way of attempting to combat the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. This was announced by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday evening when he was speaking to the nation on national television in what has come to be known as the Family Meeting.
Cyril Ramaphosa was addressing the nation as South Africa is in the grips of one of the most virulent variants of the virus, which has led to the spiking of infections. He spoke passionately about the need for the people to maintain the basics of wearing masks and social distancing. In his speech, Ramaphosa said that his government had an expectation that the peak of the current wave would be much higher than that of the previous waves. Ramaphosa announced that, based on the advice of the Ministerial Advisory Council and other bodies, the Cabinet had decided to move the country to alert level 4. He further announced that these restrictions would be in place for a period of fourteen days, after which his government would reassess them and see if there was a need to maintain or change them.
Announcing the restrictions, Ramaphosa, stated that all gatherings, be it political, social, or religious, were prohibited while funerals would be restricted to a maximum of 50 people only. In addition, the sale of alcohol, both on and off-site, would be prohibited, with restaurants being allowed to only open for take-away meals. This, the president said, was because the patrons would have to take off their masks to eat. The restaurants, he said, would have to close at eight pm to allow their workers to be home in time for the curfew that would start at 9 pm. Turning to travel, Ramaphosa announced that travel to and from Gauteng, the epicentre of the third wave, would be prohibited unless it was for essential services and for those citizens that were returning home. An additional restriction that Ramaphosa announced was the closure of schools. He said that the closing of schools, which was impending anyway, would be brought forward and schools would need to close from Wednesday, the 30th of June and all schools should be closed by Friday, the 2nd of July. He also announced that tertiary institutions would have to stop contact lessons by the same Wednesday.
Turning to the issue of vaccinations, Ramaphosa said that his government was forging ahead with the rollout of vaccination, adding that, to date, they had vaccinated at least 2,7 million individuals. He said while the vaccination rate was still under 300 000 people per day, he was hoping for it to reach 300 000. In addition, he said, he was happy that the programme was welcoming those people that were walking in without registration. He also called on people to stop spreading fake news about the vaccines.