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‘Lighter’ Alert Level 1: 10 things people need to know

During his speech on Wednesday 11 November, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a “lighter” Level 1 restriction.

According to this, residents have more freedom, but there are still certain restrictions that remain in place to try and prevent a possible second wave of infections.

It was the first time in two months that he addressed South Africans directly about the risk-based strategic plan to curb Covid-19.

According to this, residents have more freedom, but there are still certain restrictions that remain in place to balance economic and health needs. Here are 10 things you need to know:

1. The state of disaster is extended until 15 December. The risk of a new surge of infections means that the government has decided to extend the state of disaster by another month. It would have expired on 15 November.

While the state of disaster would have originally expired on 15 June, the law stipulates that it may be extended by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs – with notice in the Government Gazette – for one month at a time before it expires.

2. All international travel will resume. This follows after the government earlier implemented a controversial red list restricting visitors from high-risk countries. Travellers will have to take a negative Covid-19 test that is not older than 72 hours.

3. Liquor sales return to normal. The sale of alcohol is now allowed during all licensed trading hours despite fears that liquor sales would be restricted again. This means that the regulation that required that alcohol may not be sold on Saturdays and Sundays and that trade during the week is limited to 17:00 only, now falls away.

4. Covid-19 UIF is being extended for another month. The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) assistance for temporarily retired employees is extended by one month. Claims can now also be submitted for the period until 15 October. Numerous operations have expressed concern over the past month that it would only be valid until 15 September.

5. Five days of mourning proclaimed. Ramaphosa declared five days of national mourning. The national flag will hang half-mast from 25 to 29 November in recognition of people who died of Covid-19, and also for victims of gender-based violence.

The public is urged to wear black bracelets on these five days to pay tribute to people who died of Covid-19.

6. Curfew remains in place. People are still not allowed to roam freely in public spaces between 00:00 and 04:00.

7. Large gatherings are still prohibited. Gatherings are limited to 250 indoors and 500 outdoors.

8. Half capacity in public spaces. The number of people allowed in a retail store, bar, cinema, theatre or other public space remains limited to 50% of its normal capacity to prevent the spread of the virus.

9. Masks are still mandatory. It is still mandatory to wear a face mask in all public spaces and to ensure social distancing. The President said he understands the discomfort that comes with wearing masks in the heat, but emphasised the importance of staying safe.

10. Be responsible. The president warned that the urge to travel, gather with loved ones, and celebrate the holidays without staying vigilant, and adhering to the health and safety protocols, could contribute to a second wave.

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