AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
SOUTH Africa has introduced a temporary ban on weekend alcohol off sales, consumption of booze at parks, beaches and extended curfew hours in a bid to deal with the COVID-19 third wave that has resulted in a spike in infections and hospital admissions.
The measures are part of the movement of the country to Lockdown Alert Level Three that were unveiled by SA president Cyril Ramaphosa in an address to the nation, following a meeting with the COVID-19 Command Council.
Ramaphosa also revealed Gauteng, Free State, North West and Northern Cape provinces are officially in the 3rd wave while other provinces are not far behind. He said Gauteng has been the worst hit.
Among the measures unveiled by Ramaphosa are:
- Alcohol sales for off site consumption will be banned from Friday to Sunday. Alcohol can only be bought, for off site between 10am and 5pm between Monday and Thursday. It will be available for sit down customers in restaurants.
- Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden.
- Restaurants, bars and gyms to close by 9pm
- Curfew will start at 10pm until 4am.
- All gatherings – including religious, political and entertainment – are restricted to 50 indoors and 100 people outdoors. “It’s a criminal offence if the number of people on these premises exceeds the maximum number of customers or employees allowed for there to be proper social distancing,” he warned.
- Attendance at funerals and cremations must not exceed 50 people.
“The owners and managers of public buildings, centres, shops, restaurants, taxis and busses all have a responsibility to ensure that people on their premises or in their vehicles wear masks. They must ensure that the appropriate social distancing measures are in place and adhered to,” Ramaphosa said.
Measures that remain in place include:
- Night vigils and “after tears” gatherings remain banned.
- Wearing a mask outdoors is mandatory.
- Funerals may not exceed 50 people.
- Social distancing
- Avoidance of super-spreader gatherings
The SA President said the changes were necessary. He said:
“A third wave of infections is upon us. We have to contain this new wave of infections. Since I last spoke to you just over two weeks ago, the average number of daily new infections has doubled. Then, we were recording around 3,700 daily infections. Over the last seven days, we have recorded an average of 7,500 daily infections.
“Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 over the last 14 days are 59 per cent higher than the preceding 14 days. The average number of people who die from COVID-19 each day has increased by 48 per cent from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days. With the exception of the Northern Cape, all provinces are experiencing rising infections. Four provinces – Gauteng, Free State, North West and Northern Cape – are officially in a third wave, while others are approaching that point. The proportion of COVID tests that are positive – the so-called positivity rate – is continuing to rise in Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape, Free State and KwaZulu- Natal.
“Of these, Gauteng has been the worst hit. It accounts for nearly two-thirds of new cases measured over the last week. The increase in infections in Gauteng is now faster and steeper than it was at the same time in previous waves. Within a matter of days, it is likely that the number of new cases in Gauteng will surpass the peak of the second wave. Private hospitals in the province have reported that they are near capacity. We have to act decisively and quickly to save lives. And to do this, we need to return to the basics.”
Ramaphosa also announced that, as a result of the move to Alert Level Three, the Youth Day activities, planned for Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-Natal, will be held with few people and he, as president, will address it via video.