There are a few surprises in the Covid-19 alert Level 2 rules that were gazetted by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Monday.
In a big win for the hospitality industry, restaurants, bars and taverns will be allowed to also sell alcohol on weekends, but for on-site consumption only, until the curfew time of 22:00.
However, bottle stores will still be restricted to selling alcohol from Monday to Thursday between 09:00 and 17:00 for off-site consumption.
Other surprises include concerts, weddings and smaller events now being allowed, though these will still be restricted to no more than 50 people. The government has previously allowed small conferences of 50 people or less under alert level 3, in addition to inter-provincial travel for businesspeople and in essential and emergency cases.
The gazetting of the new rules follows President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing on Saturday that South Africa will see an easing of Covid-19 restrictions to alert Level 2 as of Tuesday. He mentioned that inter-provincial leisure travel will be allowed for the first time since the hard lockdown in March, in addition to the lifting of the tobacco and alcohol bans.
The president also revealed that family visits would be permitted.
According to the new alert Level 2 rules, no more than 10 people are allowed to visit you at your home.
Gyms and Airbnb establishments are also now officially being allowed to operate for the first time since the hard lockdown in late March. However, like eventing venues and cinemas, gyms will also need to conform to the rule around not allowing more than 50 people in each venue at any one time.
Accredited hotels, lodges and bed & breakfast establishments have previously been allowed to accept business guests as well as leisure tourists (only within a province) under Level 3 restrictions. With the move to Level 2 and inter-provincial travel (between provinces) now being opened up, new accommodation rules stipulate that establishments cannot operate at more than 50% capacity.
Casinos have already had to operate under similar restrictions after being allowed to operate in Level 3 since July.
As mentioned by Ramaphosa on Saturday, under Level 2 restrictions international travel remains banned. In addition, spectators will not be allowed at major sports matches. Major conferences and mega events are still not permitted.
The gazetted Level 2 rules stipulate that nightclubs are still not allowed to operate, which seems to be in line with restrictions on mass gatherings.
Public parks and beaches will now also officially be opened, however, some of these have been used under fitness rules in Level 3.
Under the latest eased restrictions, the wearing of masks as well as social distancing and health protocols in public spaces remain mandatory. The curfew between 10pm and 4am also remains in place.