With the State of Disaster set to expire in five days’ time, Cyril Ramaphosa needed to make an announcement about our lockdown laws while he still had the audience. The president revealed his intentions during SONA 2022… but he’s left us on a small cliffhanger in the process.
They think it’s all over? State of Disaster laws will expire next week…
Ramaphosa did not confirm if he would let the State of Disaster laws lapse next week. However, he did clearly signal that the State of Disaster Act WILL come to an end soon – the government is now just waiting on the publication of other measures to manage COVID-19, which will instead fall under the National Health Act.
“It is our intention to end the State of Disaster, as soon as we have finalised other measures under the National Health Act, as well as other legislation to manage the pandemic. Nearly all restrictions have already been lifted.”
“Vaccines have proven to be our best defence against the virus. Had I not been vaccinated myself, I perhaps wouldn’t be standing here myself. We can get on with our lives, even with the virus in our midst.”
A trip down memory lane…
The State of Disaster was implemented in March 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19. The very beginning of the pandemic marked a frightening and unprecedented time for the whole planet.
After months of harsh restrictions – which included alcohol and tobacco bans, as well as the removal of cooked chickens from supermarket shelves for some reason – South Africa slowly opened back up in the winter.
A rollercoaster journey through variants, lockdowns, and vaccination drives
However, new variants of COVID-19 would make 2021 just as hellish as the previous 12 months. Both the Beta and Delta variants of the virus drove huge waves of infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. Vaccinations had barely started by the time our third wave ripped through the country.
Things returned to relative normality in the second half of last year, as more lockdown laws were slowly lifted. Restrictions on gatherings and travel were eased, and the curfew was eventually dropped.
The emergence of the Omicron variant, however, briefly threatened to derail these newly regained freedoms. Thankfully, this particular mutation led to ‘more mild outcomes’ in a large majority of people contracting the disease.
State of Disaster latest: Ramaphosa gives crucial update during SONA 2022
Since the new year, Cyril Ramaphosa has been under enormous pressure to lift our State of Disaster laws. Leading medical professionals and business representatives have pleaded for all restrictions to be lifted – and there was even some incredulity when the president renewed the legislation on 15 January.
Presented with a chance to hold his ‘last ever family meeting’ on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa stepped up to announce that the State of Disaster laws WILL come to a conclusion ‘very soon’, but unfortunately, he didn’t commit to a date.
Well, whenever these rules expire, it has certainly been a journey none of us will forget.