While the country will remain on lockdown level 3 amid a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced drastic measures in an effort to preserve lives and limit the rise in infections.
Addressing the country on Sunday night, the President said while the country will remain on lockdown level 3, certain regulations were being reintroduced with immediate effect while others were being tightened.
By Sunday, South Africa had 276 242 confirmed cases, of which 4 079 had resulted in related deaths.
“We are now recording over 12 000 new cases every day. That is the equivalent of 500 new infections every hour,” he said.
Regulations reintroduced with immediate effect
Among these is a re-ban on the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol as well as the reintroduction of a curfew between 9pm and 4am. While interprovincial taxi capacity will remain at 70%, local taxis will now be able to ferry 100% loads. However, operators will be expected to follow new risk mitigation protocols related to masks, vehicle sanitising and open windows.
Regulations on the wearing of masks, which has been mandatory, will be strengthened.
“As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided. This is a fight to save every life, and we need to save every bed,” he said.
In this regard, the President said employers, shop owners and managers, public transport operators, and managers and owners of any other public building are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask.
“All workplaces and all institutions need to ensure that there is a designated Coronavirus official responsible for making sure that all regulations and all precautions are strictly adhered to,” he said.
He said Cabinet has resorted to this measure in an effort to conserve hospital capacity as evidence had illustrated that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in a substantial pressure on the country’s hospitals.
“Most of these and other trauma injuries occur at night,” the President said.
Cabinet has resorted to these as both public and private hospitals were beginning to take strain.
The President expressed concern at reports of infected people being turned away from health facilities due to a lack of beds or essential supplies.
“This is deeply worrying. It means we have to move with even greater urgency to strengthen our strategy to manage the peak of infections.”