Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has urged citizens to be cautious and adhere to Alert Level 1 COVID-19 regulations over the Easter weekend.
Given the relatively low transmission levels, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday announced that Cabinet had decided to keep the country on Coronavirus Alert Level 1, with a few adjustments.
The President said the Easter weekend is a time of spiritual significance and attending religious services is important to millions of Christians.
“For Christians, congregational worship is an important part of celebrating Easter.
“The Jewish community is currently celebrating Passover, and the Muslim community will soon be starting the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.
Following consultation, it was determined that religious gatherings over this period be restricted to a maximum of 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.
Where venues are too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.
In regulations gazetted this week, in line with the adjustments, every person is obliged to observe curfew time from midnight until 4am daily, unless a person has a permit.
Dlamini-Zuma in the gazette emphasises that communities, industries, businesses and entities, both private and in the public sector, must operate within the Alert Level 1 regulations, as amended.
Between Friday and Monday, the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited. On-site sales at restaurants, shebeens and bars will be allowed, according to licensing conditions, up until 11pm.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Minister emphasised that even though provisions have been made for gatherings, South Africans are urged to avoid them if possible, and this includes the elderly and those with co-morbidities.
“It is important to note that even as the country remains at Alert level 1 during the Easter period, government urges everyone to be extremely cautious and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from possible COVID-19 infection.
“Government further implores people to observe and adhere to all the non-pharmaceutical interventions in an effort to mitigate the possibility of a resurgence,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
Funerals are still limited to 100 people and are required to last a maximum of two hours.
The regulations also indicate that all people attending gatherings, including faith-based ones, should endeavour to limit exposure to COVID-19 by adhering to all protocols and regulations.
Congregants are urged not to gather outside their usual places of worship, and people must go home and not sleep over after services.