Is Ramaphosa about to relax restrictions on religious gatherings?

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Government is reviewing requests by religious leaders for at least half of their congregations and worshippers to attend meetings, instead of the stipulated 50 as per current level 2 regulations, President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday.

Speaking during a virtual meeting with the South African National Editors Forum, he said South Africans can look forward to more announcements in the next few days.

“As the National Coronavirus Command Council, we are having to evaluate a number of proposals put to us by a number of sectors of society, including religious leaders asking that we consider extending the number of people allowed in worship,” he said.

At a virtual meeting between the president and the religious sector on September 2, Freedom of Religion SA urged the government to allow religious organisations to use at least 50% of the capacity of their buildings and facilities during public gatherings.

Ramaphosa told the editors yesterday that the council had requests from the sports and entertainment sector as well as hoteliers and the tourism sector.

“We are doing an evaluation of the infection rate and will get advice from the Medical Advisory Committee and the NATJOINTS teams. Watch this space, next week where we end up as a nation in as far as this is concerned,” he said.

This week National Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize hinted at a further downgrade to level 1. He said South Africa could soon move to level 1 of the nationwide lockdown in a matter of days.

According to media reports the tourism industry hopes for a return to international travel with the expected implementation of level 1.

Earlier this week the ACDP called on the government to lift the lockdown entirely and implement economic growth plans to boost the ailing economy.

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