South Africans remain a little surprised after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s last address to the nation, especially as they expected him to enforce much harsher restrictions.
In the days before the “family meeting”, the liquor industry lobbied hard against another blanket ban on alcohol sales, saying this could severely cripple the industry and thousands of jobs would be lost.
Ramaphosa once again took this to heart, with alcohol sales rumoured to be banned once again instead being limited.
The South African Medical Association (Sama) felt the regulations were not strict enough to curb the spread of the third Covid-19 wave. Many experts said the country needed tighter lockdown restrictions in order to get ahead of the expected curve.
Speaking to SABC on Sunday, acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane expressed concern at the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, and warned that tighter lockdown restrictions could be implemented.
Family meeting tonight
The president announced a series of stricter lockdown measures tonight after several provinces officially entered the third wave of infections.
The average number of people who die from Covid-19 each day has increased by 48%, from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days, Ramaphosa said.
Hospital beds, especially in the private sector, are said to be nearing capacity.
Level 3 lockdown rules
According to Business Day, the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 recommended Ramaphosa impose similar restrictions to those in December 2020 when South Africa experienced its second wave of Covid-19 infections.
These are the rules that have changed:
The sale of alcohol from retailers for offsite consumption is now only permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. This excludes pubic holidays.
On-site consumption has been permitted up to 9pm. Consumption in all public spaces is still prohibited.
An earlier curfew
South Africa moving to lockdown level 3 means a longer evening curfew. The country’s curfew is now from 10pm to 4am.
A limit on gatherings
All gatherings have been limited to maximum of 50 people indoors, and 100 outdoors, or 50% capacity of venue. This includes religious services, political events, restaurants, bars and taverns.
Attendance at funerals and cremations may not exceed 50 people, with strict social distancing that must be implemented
Night vigils and “after tears” funeral gatherings are not allowed.
In December, all indoor and outdoor gatherings were prohibited for 14 days, except for funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos.
Restaurants and bars to close earlier
With the curfew being moved earlier to 10pm, non-essential establishments (including shops, restaurants, bars and all cultural venues) must close at 9pm.
Although alcohol sales have not been banned completely, an earlier curfew is still expected to hit the restaurant industry hard.