CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa lifted a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew on movement with immediate effect as it believes the country has passed the peak of its fourth COVID-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant, a cabinet statement said on Thursday.
South Africa, which is currently at the lowest of its five-stage COVID-19 alert levels, made the changes based on the trajectory of the pandemic, levels of vaccination in the country and available capacity in the health sector.
Besides lifting the restrictions on public movement, government said gatherings will be restricted to no more than 1,000 people indoors, and no more than 2,000 people outdoors.
It also ruled that alcohol shops with licenses to operate beyond 11 p.m. (2100GMT) may revert back to full license conditions, a welcome boon for traders and business hard hit by the pandemic and looking to recover during the festive season.
“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves. This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services,” the cabinet said.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)