With the third wave of Covid-19 in full swing in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved the country to “alert level 3”, restricting alcohol sales and strictly limiting the size of public gatherings.
Ramaphosa, who addressed the nation in a televised speech on Tuesday evening, said the novel coronavirus is spreading quickly across most provinces, and especially in Gauteng, where the peak of active infections is expected to top the maximum reached in the previous two waves. Public and private hospitals in the province are nearly full, the president said.
“We need to return to the basics. We need to remind ourselves how this virus is spread,” Ramaphosa said in his address. “We need to behave in a way that reduces the chances of transmission. We must not disregard the basic precautions that we know are so essential.”
The move to alert level 3 is with immediate effect. Under the new rules, the curfew will start at 10pm and end at 4am. Establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres, which Ramaphosa described as “non-essential”, will need to close by 9pm to allow their patrons and employees to travel home before the curfew.
All gatherings are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, only 50% of the facility may be used, the president said. This also applies to restaurants and bars. Night vigils and after-tears (after-funeral) gatherings are not allowed.
The sale of alcohol for offsite consumption has been curtailed to between 10am and 6pm on Monday to Thursday only. This excludes public holidays, meaning bottle stores will be closed on Wednesday, Youth Day. “Alcohol consumption in all public spaces is strictly prohibited,” Ramaphosa said.
Wearing a facemask in public remains compulsory – not wearing one is a criminal offence, he added.
“Throughout our response to the pandemic, we have sought to take measures that are appropriate and proportionate to the threat of infection. If we act too soon, or impose measures that are severe, the economy will suffer. But if we respond too late … we risk losing control over the virus.” — © 2021 NewsCentral Media