The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has advised against the lifting of the COVID-19 curfew on Friday to allow people to celebrate the beginning of the New Year.
This comes as thousands of people took to social media calling for the midnight to 4am curfew to be eased on New Year’s Eve.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Restaurant Association of South Africa have also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift the curfew.
SAMA chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee says although people’s frustrations with the lockdown restrictions especially at this time of the year are understandable, the pandemic is far from over.
Coetzee says, “We might be lucky this time with the Omicron, which is very fast spreading and luckily causing less severe symptoms. Going forward, we might not be that lucky, we never know when there will be a new variant coming. This is an unpredictable situation we are living in and for now, I don’t think we should lessen the restrictions, especially the curfew. We’re already having trouble with getting patients tested.”
VIDEO: Dr Angelique Coetzee on lessons learned dealing with COVID-19 pandemic:
Cabinet announced that alcohol establishments, which have licences to operate beyond 11PM, will revert to full licence conditions.
The Minister in the Presidency is Mondli Gungubele says gatherings are restricted to no more than 1 000 people indoors and no more than 2 000 people outdoors.
Gungubele says, “Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used. All other restrictions remain in place. Alcohol establishments that have licences to operate beyond 23h00 will revert back to full licence conditions.”
He says despite the lifting of Alert Level 1, curfew restrictions, people are still required to wear masks and observe social distancing when in public spaces.
Gungubele says, “ 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. The wearing of masks in public places is still mandatory, and failure to wear a mask when required remains a criminal offence.”
INFOGRAPHIC: COVID-19 Statistics in SA: