South Africa: President Ramaphosa - Beaches and Booze Are Back As First Batch of Vaccines Arrives

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, right, and his deputy David Mabuza with the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on February 1, 2021.

For the first time in a while, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday sounded a cautiously celebratory note in his address to the nation. The first batch of Covid-19 vaccine has arrived; the number of Covid-19 infections is dropping; and two of the most contentious restrictions - on beach-going and alcohol - can accordingly be lifted.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's Monday night address brought good news for lovers of alcohol, the outdoors, and a Higher Power. With Covid-19 infections dropping and (some) vaccines on the way, a number of lockdown restrictions are being repealed as of Tuesday 2 February.

Among them:

  • Curfew hours will now be from 11pm to 4am;
  • Faith-based gatherings will be permitted, though numbers may not exceed 50 indoors and 100 outdoors;
  • Beaches, dams, rivers, parks and public swimming pools will be reopened, subject to health restrictions;
  • Alcohol can be sold in shops from Monday to Thursday, 10am to 6pm;
  • Duty-free shops, wine farms and micro-breweries will be able to sell booze; and
  • Restaurants and bars can serve alcohol from 10am to 10pm.

These changes, said Ramaphosa, have been made possible by "the significant reduction in hospital admissions".

While hospitals were admitting around 2,300 Covid-19 patients per day at...

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