Highlights

  • Curfew to start from 21:00 and end 06:00 instead of 23:00 to 04:00
  • Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, must close at 20:00.
  • Effective immediately, failure to wear masks in public is an offence punishable with 6 months imprisonment or a fine or both
  • There is a total ban on the sale of alcohol in shops, bars and restaurants during the period
  • South Africa has recorded over 50, 000 new cases since Christmas eve and now has over one million confirmed cases

The South African government has imposed harsher restrictions on the people, prompted by a second wave of Covid-19 infections and the discovery of a new variant of the lethal virus in the country. This comes barely a fortnight after President Cyril Ramaphosa slammed similar restrictions in the wake of the second wave of infections.

The president on Monday evening announced a ban on alcohol sales, earlier curfews, compulsory mask wearing and revised limitations on social gatherings.

A ban on beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks, and public swimming pools in hotspot areas was also effected.

Hotspots

South Africa has a long list of new hotspots, in addition. These include major cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“There is little cause for celebration this year. We have let our guard down and we are now paying the price,” lamented Ramaphosa as he reeled out the new hotspots.

In the Eastern Cape Province – Chris Hani District, Buffalo City, Amathole District, Alfred Nzo District and the OR Tambo District. These are in addition to Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Sarah Baartman District, which have already been declared hotspots.

In the Western Cape – the West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, Cape Town, Central Karoo District. This is in addition to the Garden Route District.

In KwaZulu-Natal – eThekwini, Umgungundlovu District, Ugu District, Harry Gwala District, King Cetshwayo District and Ilembe District.

In Gauteng – the West Rand District, Tshwane (Pretoria), Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg are declared hotspots.

In the North West – Bojanala District

In Limpopo – the Waterberg District and the Capricorn District.

While all the new “adjusted” Level 3 lockdown regulations have yet to be detailed, Ramaphosa announced that the following will come into effect by midnight on Monday:

Ban on alcohol sales

The sale, distribution and transportation of alcohol is prohibited, and restaurants and bars are not permitted to sell alcohol at all.

Ramaphosa reiterated that alcohol-related trauma, specifically drunk driving, and violence during the festive season, had overburdened South Africa’s emergency units.

“Excessive alcohol consumption is driving up the number of trauma cases in our hospitals,” said Ramaphosa. “These trauma cases from bullet wounds, stabbings, motor vehicle accidents and many others are putting an unnecessary strain on our already stressed health facilities.”

Extended curfew

Across the whole country, the new curfew will be between 21:00 and 06:00. Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, must close at 20:00.

Ban on indoor and outdoor events

Ramaphosa said the new curfew is intended to minimise dangerous social gatherings, which, coupled with alcohol consumption, posed a serious risk for both transmission and reckless behaviour, further straining healthcare resources.

Consequently, “all indoor and outdoor gatherings will be prohibited for 14 days from the date hereof, except for funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos,” explained Ramaphosa.

Wear a mask or go to jail

It is compulsory to wear a mask in a public space. Anyone who does not wear a mask is committing an offence and can be arrested. Offenders can face up to six months in prison or a fine, or both.

“From now on it is compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space,” said Ramaphosa. “A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence.”

Previously, only businesses and building owners faced sanction if someone on their premises failed to wear a mask.

Closure of beaches, dams, rivers, and public swimming pools in hotspots

Covid-19 hotspots across several municipalities in six provinces face harsher restrictions regarding public spaces.

“As the infections continue to rise, Cabinet on the advice of the National Coronavirus Command Council, has decided that all beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed to the public with effect from tomorrow,” explained Ramaphosa.

Other Level 3 restrictions

South Africa was in Level 3 from the beginning of June this year to mid-August.

During that time, no interprovincial travel was allowed (unless under strict conditions). But while Ramaphosa said that travel to hotspot districts should be avoided, he did not specify any restrictions on travel, on Monday evening.

He also stressed that businesses – apart from those that transport alcohol – would not be barred from operating. During Level 3 in the past, hairdressers, gyms were not allowed to operate, and hotels also had to remain closed. While new regulations are still pending, it is assumed that these may still be allowed to operate during SA’s new “adjusted” Level 3.

Cigarettes

Also, while the sale of cigarettes was illegal during South Africa’s previous Level 3, no mention was made of a tobacco sales ban on Monday.

The restrictive measures were decided in consultation with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and take effect immediately.

NP/Tony Ekata/Monitored

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