South Africans will soon be able to give their friends and family the best send-off, as more mourners will be permitted to attend funerals from Monday under alert Level 1.
Religious gatherings have also been given the green light to accommodate hundreds of worshippers.
The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, shed light on the new regulations on Friday after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week that the country would be moving to Level 1 at midnight on Sunday.
However, the Minister warned that the country is not out of the woods yet.
According to the Minister, funerals can now have 100 people, up from the 50 allowed under Level 2. However, night vigils are still prohibited.
“If your venue is small and cannot take a 100 people at 1.5 meters apart, then you must use half the capacity of the venue,” she explained.
Meanwhile, health protocols such as the washing of hands, sanitizing, and wearing of masks still apply.
“We know that funerals are super-spreaders because of the activities at the funerals, where people are singing, consoling one another. It means the chance of spreading the virus is higher,” the Minister explained.
Also, the wearing of masks remains non-negotiable. “If you leave your house, you wear a mask. When you enter the building, the owner of the building should ensure you wear a mask. That is a must,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, churches will be allowed to house a maximum of 250 congregants no matter how big the venue is.
“If your venue can’t allow for social distancing, then you cannot have 250 people. You have to have less or half the size of the venue.”
According to the Minister, this goes for other social gatherings too, such as weddings.
For outdoor gatherings, you cannot have more than 500 people, while gyms are now allowed to have 50% of the capacity of the venue.
Dlamini-Zuma acknowledged that the past six months under the lockdown – aimed at reducing and mitigating the risk of the dangerous Coronavirus – have been difficult and testing.
“It has changed our lives forever and probably reversed the economic and social gains we have registered as a democratic South Africa.”
While the country is opening for more economic activity, Dlamini-Zuma warned against complacency even though the rate of infections is increasing.
“The virus has the feature of being silent, but very efficient… It also loves crowds…” she cautioned.
She said the country was “slowly departing from the eye of the storm of COVID-19” and that is why the government is easing restrictions and increasing economic activity.
However, the “virus remains a threat” as more people will be out and about, Dlamini-Zuma told the media.
The country is in it for the long haul and efforts need to be redoubled to avoid the further spread of the deadly virus that has claimed almost 16 000 lives.
The Minister thanked citizens for their collective efforts and the sacrifices made it possible for the country to move to level 1.
“By observing the health and hygienic protocols we have ensured that our limited health capacity is efficiently used and is sufficient to all those who needed care.
“By following the regulations, we had to adjust our approach from time to time to respond to this virus and it has enabled us to make this progress thus far as a nation,” she added.
To read the full Level 1 regulation click here. – SAnews.gov.za