S/Africa reimposes stricter restrictions amid COVID-19 surge

With the sale of alcohol completely banned until mid-January, South Africa will from Tuesday revert to stricter Level 3 coronavirus…

With the sale of alcohol completely banned until mid-January, South Africa will from Tuesday revert to stricter Level 3 coronavirus lockdown restrictions to stop the current second wave of the pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.In an address to the nation on Monday night, Ramaphosa said KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Gauteng, and Eastern Cape provinces were the regions hardest hit by the new cases, registering the bulk of the 50,000 infections since Christmas Eve.

He said the northern province of Limpopo was recording increases in the number of coronavirus cases which now have a highly transmissible variant.

“Under the adjusted Level 3 regulations, 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,” Ramaphosa said.

The president also announced that the curfew has also been extended been extended by three hours from the current 10pm (2000 GMT) to 4am.

“The nationwide curfew will be extended from 9pm to 6am. Apart from permitted workers and for medical and security emergencies, nobody is allowed outside their place of residence during the curfew,” the president said.

The new regulations would also see non-essential establishments closing earlier, and the sale of alcohol completely banned until 15 January next year, he added.

“Non-essential establishments – including shops, restaurants, bars, and all cultural venues – must close at 8pm. The list of these establishments will be released shortly,” he added.

“Night clubs and businesses engaged in the sale and transportation of liquor will not be allowed to operate.”

The Level 3 restrictions will remain in place until 15 January 2021.

“These measures will be reviewed at that time on the basis of the state of the pandemic in the country,” Ramaphosa said.

In addition, those who did not wear masks as a means to curb the spread of the virus, would be punished, he said.

“From now on, it is compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space.

“A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence, could be arrested and prosecuted.

On conviction, offenders would be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.

The president also declared several areas of the country as hotspots to be avoided if possible — or if not, to take precautionary measures such as the coronavirus prevention protocols.

He named these hotspots as Western Cape Province, the West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, City of Cape Town, Central Karoo District — in addition to the popular Garden Route District near Cape Town.