Compulsory mask-wearing, two-hour funeral services, and absolutely no sale or purchase of liquor are the new rules for the next two weeks as the country was now in an adjusted level 3 lockdown.
Members of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) unpacked the new regulations on Tuesday, which saw strict prohibitions until 15 January following the country breaching the one million mark of Covid-19 infections.
Disobeying curfew could end you in jail
Those who are found on the streets between 9PM and 6AM will be found a new home in the form of a holding cell as this violated the new curfew, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“We would usually tell you to go home. But we will give you a home. If we find you between 9PM and 6AM out there, we will make sure we give you a home and you will go and greet a magistrate which might give you a criminal record or keep you in prison for up to 6 months. It is important that one-minute past 9PM, everyone is in their house,” said Cele.
Travellers whose international flights arrive in the country during curfew hours would be permitted in the streets to make their way to their destinations, on condition proof of their flights is provided when necessary.
We don’t want to arrest you – so always wear a mask
The wearing of masks in public spaces was now legally compulsory, with violations leading to arrests and prosecution with a punishment of either a fine or up to six months imprisonment.
According to the regulations, masks should be worn in all public spaces including funerals, public transport and gatherings. Those who fail to comply with verbal instructions from police would be arrested.
“We would not love to arrest and fine you but if you avail yourself, we will take the opportunity of arresting you… The prisons and police stations are not empty but there is space for you if you break the law,” Cele warned.
While the law might seem harsh, Cooperative Governance Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said this was only to protect South Africans from the virus.
“Wearing a mask is not just protecting yourself but your loved ones and everybody else… The government does not want to arrest anyone or take anyone to prison. So please, just wear your mask and there will be no problem and the police won’t do anything,” she said.
The penalty fee for transgressing this rule would be determined by the courts, with the chief magistrates giving guidance, said Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
“What they [courts] usually do is give each other guidance so that there is uniformity through the chief magistrate country wide in the types of fines,” he said.
A possibly sober New Year’s Eve for most
The sale of alcohol has been prohibited, including from taverns, restaurants as well as wine tasting on wine farms.
Alcohol will not be allowed to be transported unless it is for export or storage purposes by breweries.
This means one cannot even transport a few cans of beers in their car to drink at a friend’s house, Cele explained.
“Wherever your alcohol is now, it stays there. There is no movement [of it], no bottle, no can in your boot… or taking alcohol from next door to next door. You will only keep the alcohol where it is at the present moment. You will be arrested on that one,” he said.
All new provisions will remain until 15 January 2021 where they will further be reviewed.