South Africa will allow up to 2,000 vaccinated fans access to a stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying game between national team Bafana-Bafana and Ethiopia.
Bafana-Bafana confirmed that the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Ministry has approved a limited number of spectators to be allowed back into the stadium.
Fans were stopped from attending live sporting events 18 months ago when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) said the initiative is to “expedite mass vaccinations that will enable society to return to normalcy.”
“Fans have been hungry to return to the stadium and the small business and informal sector will receive a massive boost as a result of this initiative,” said SAFA President Dr. Danny Jordaan.
“This news will be received with delight by those who sell food, flags and taxi drivers who take fans to the stadiums. It is part of the economy that had suffered a lot as a result of fans not being allowed to attend matches. I am happy, this is the beginning of the restoration of the football economy.”
Last week, Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla launched a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate that can be used for travel, attend sporting events, recreation events, and music festivals.
South Africa has administered over 19 million vaccine doses, with 9.69 million people being fully vaccinated, about 16.3 % of the country’s 60 million population.
There are over 2.9 million COVID-19 cases and over 88,000 related deaths.
Due to a fall in infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month announced a further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Under Adjusted Alert Level 1, up to 750 people are allowed to gather at indoor events compared to 250 previously, while up to 2,000 can converge for an outdoor event compared to only 500 before.