On Tuesday, South Africa made sweeping national changes aimed at getting back to normal after the years-long COVID-19 pandemic.
Overnight, the South African government announced monumental changes to most of the remaining COVID-19 ordinances. According to officials, anyone without symptoms can live life as usual. Anyone who comes into contact with a COVID-positive person with no symptoms can also continue as normal.
South Africa no longer requires testing, nor does the country require mandatory or suggested isolation.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, the isolation has been reduced to seven days.
Schools opened Tuesday with operations as usual before the pandemic. South African schools will no longer operate on a split, isolation schedule to reduce student populations on campus. Additionally, there is no social distancing requirement.
The only remaining COVID-19 regulation in South Africa is masking. Masks will still be required in public spaces and on public transport for the foreseeable future.
In a statement on Tuesday, the South African government indicated that 60-80% of South Africans are either vaccinated or have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. The result means the majority of citizens’ blood samples show COVID-19 antibodies.
Nurith Aizenman of NPR called the final stage of COVID “the endemic stage of the pandemic, in which the coronavirus becomes a more predictable seasonal bug like the flu or common cold.” However, Aizenman did not point to South Africa as an example of what can be expected for the remainder of the world.
South Africa can now be seen as the largest and most important country to reach endemic levels. As more countries reach this level, living with COVID-19 will become easier and more predictable. The result will be a continued easing of COVID restrictions and mandates around the globe.
South Africa is the second nation this week to eliminate or ease most COVID restrictions. Early Tuesday, Denmark’s Government ended all national COVID-19 regulations.