South Africa: SA's Gathering Restrictions Eased, but Showdown Over State of Disaster Looms

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on Covid-19 restrictions, March 22, 2022.
analysis

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced new lockdown regulations that will allow more people to attend large events, but the National State of Disaster is likely to remain in place for the near future.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa further reduced lockdown restrictions as severe coronavirus symptoms and hospital admissions remain low, but he resisted calls for an immediate end to the National State of Disaster.

"For two years, our lives have been shaped by this pandemic," said Ramaphosa.

The President described how life is increasingly returning to normal as restrictions have been eased while coronavirus-related death rates have reduced, largely due to the public's increased immunity through vaccines or previous Covid-19 exposure.

The most significant change in the new regulations concerns gatherings. Previously, there was a limit of 1,000 people who could attend indoor events and 2,000 people who could attend outdoor events.

Under the new regulations, indoor and outdoor gatherings can reach 50% of a venue's capacity, provided attendees show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours.

That means large sporting events, such as soccer or cricket matches, and cultural and entertainment events, such as music festivals and...

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