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The latest news stories and headlines in South Africa you really need to know on Friday, 31 December 2021.
Yay! South Africans will eventually be able to celebrate New Year’s eve without a curfew for the first time since the start of the pandemic!
A special Cabinet meeting held on Thursday, 30 December 2021, has approved several changes to the Adjusted Alert Level 1 COVID-19 regulations.
This follows meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), which received updates on the management of the current 4th wave of COVID-19 in South Africa is mainly driven by the Omicron variant.
According to Nonceba Mhlauli, the spokesperson to Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, all indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level.
TODAY’S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, Friday 31 December
BREAKING: Government LIFTS curfew ahead of New Year’s Eve
Finally some good news for South Africans who were hoping to usher in the New Year without limited movement: Government has announced that Cabinet gave the green light for the current lockdown curfew to be lifted with immediate effect.
In a statement released on Thursday evening, 30 December, government announced some changes to the current lockdown restrictions, which include amendments to gatherings.The lifting of the curfew means there will be no restrictions on the hours of movement of people.
“Gatherings are restricted to no more than 1 000 people indoors and no more than 2 000 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used. All other restrictions remain in place,” government said.
The National Coronavirus Command Council had imposed a midnight to 04:00 curfew – perhaps the most contentious of the restrictions because many, including political parties in Parliament as well as health experts, had questioned the rationale behind its enforcement. Since the country first went into lockdown in March 2020, the curfew has consistently remained in place, regardless of lockdown level.
New Year’s Eve: Fireworks allowed ONLY under these conditions
New Year’s Day is right around the corner and some are undoubtedly planning to usher in 2022 using fireworks, but not so fast. Residents in Johannesburg have been sternly warned to abide by the city’s bylaws on fireworks, which stipulate the circumstances under which they’d be allowed.
Under the current City of Joburg bylaws, people are not allowed to use fireworks in public areas, schools, hospitals, old age homes, indoors – or any areas within 500 metres from a petrol station and any place with explosives, be it a factory or store.
In addition, no fireworks are to be lit in the presence of animals.
Johannesburg Emergency Services has warned residents they could be fined at least R2 000, should they light fireworks outside of certain hours, both on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Those hoping to ignite fireworks on Friday, 31 December may only do so from 23:00 and 01:00. While on 1 January 2022, the permitted hours are between 19:00 and 22:00.
The JMPD has appealed to residents to use fireworks safely and to keep the safety of children and pets in mind at all times. It has also urged them to keep their pets indoors when using fireworks and never to throw lit crackers at them.
Cape Town traffic: These 17 major roads in the city are CLOSED from today
Trying to navigate Cape Town traffic in the next few days could prove to be a very tricky task, as preparations for the funeral of Archbishop Desmond Tutu begin in earnest. The religious figure will have his farewell ceremony on Saturday 1 January.
However, memorial events are already underway in the Mother City – and a total of 17 roads will be closed, as locals and dignitaries alike assemble to say their goodbyes to the Arch. However, it’s not just the Cape Town traffic that will be affected.
Company’s Garden, a popular green space in the CBD, will be closed on New Year’s Day to accommodate the funeral proceedings. Furthermore, Capetonians have been advised to avoid St. George’s Cathedral precinct altogether, between now and Sunday.
“Motorists are advised to please find alternative routes during this time, or to avoid the St. George’s Cathedral precinct entirely, if possible. A number of roads including Wale and Adderley Streets will be closed until Saturday afternoon.”
Pretoria: Unknown man’s frozen torso found DUMPED in dam – report
A rather grim story unfolding in Pretoria: Police have launched an investigation after finding an unidentified man’s frozen torso inside a dam. The big kicker is that campers and fishermen nearby may have actually seen the perpetrators toss the torso into the water.
TimesLive reports that authorities found a body wrapped in cling wrap and missing several limbs – including a head, at Roodeplaat Dam on Monday evening, 27 December.
According to Kameeldrift Community Policing Forum chairperson Petrus Nel, witnesses who were on the banks of the river at the Riverside Eco Estate, saw a car stop on the bridge. After getting out of the vehicle, the occupants were then seen throwing something into the dam.
The fishermen and campers became suspicious and at some point called police, who made the gruesome discovery. At this point, authorities can’t tell how the man died, but one thing is certain – there was foul play involved.
COVID-19: WHO chief warns of Omicron ‘tsunami’ as cases surge
The World Health Organisation has warned that a COVID-19 ‘tsunami’ is threatening to overwhelm healthcare systems. This comes after a record influx of infections once again threatened New Year celebrations around the globe.
The surge of cases has been chalked up to the Omicron variant with 6.55 million new infections reported across the world on Tuesday. Interestingly, this is the highest number of new infections recorded since the onset of the pandemic.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued battle against it.
“I am highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases.This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse.”
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The post South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Friday 31 December 2021 appeared first on Sharp Sharp iT Africa.