South Africans could soon be required to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination to gain access to public spaces.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made the remark during his address to the nation on Sunday night.
While around 14.6 million South Africans have received the jab, the president said the country’s COVID-19 recovery was being held ransom by a low vaccination take-up.
President Ramaphosa used his address to the nation to once again allay fears around the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ramaphosa revealed more than a quarter of South Africa’s adult population has received at least one dose, and over seven million people are fully vaccinated.
“South Africa is fast becoming a vaccination site. We are now administering a million doses every 4 to 5 days. However, we need to do much more.”
Using data from the Western Cape Department of Health, the president said many people were not vaccinated and remained vulnerable to severe illness, while the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging was far greater.
“But what we are seeing is that very few people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are becoming severely ill with the disease, and very few are ending up in ICU or needing ventilation. People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are far less likely to die of the disease.”
Ramaphosa also announced that plans to introduce COVID-19 “vaccine passports” will come into effect soon.
“The Department of Health is looking at a variety of mechanisms they have in other countries to either do it electronically, through a cellphone, which can be used as evidence of vaccination for various purposes and events.”
The president admitted to the hardships faced by some industries gripped by restrictions but remained optimistic following the vaccination of the bulk of the country’s population.
LEVEL 2 RESTRICTIONS
Ramaphosa said the move to level two was due to a sustained slowdown in new coronavirus infections and was aimed at reviving our economy, which has been reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
The decision came after consultations with several organisations, experts and political party leaders.
He has significantly relaxed restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather indoors and outdoors,
“All gatherings, will now be limited to a maximum of 250 people indoors, and it will now mean that outdoors to be limited to 500 people,” he said.
This move will allow more people to congregate in public spaces, while political parties campaign for votes ahead of the local government municipal elections scheduled for 1 November.
Alcohol will now be sold from Monday to Friday for off-site consumption and a new curfew has been implemented.
Non-essential establishments are expected to make some gains as the curfew has not been shortened from 11 pm to 4 am.
“Restaurants, bars and fitness centers will need to close by 10 pm, this is to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew,” the president said.
Ramaphosa has reiterated, however, that funerals were still restricted to 50 people, and the wearing of masks remains mandatory: “We’ve overcome three waves of infection because of our collective resolve, and our adherence to basic health precautions.”
With the fourth wave looming, the president said these adjusted measures would be reviewed in two weeks’ time, depending on the state of the pandemic.