President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered the country into stricter lockdown regulations, as government gears to tackle the third wave of COVID-19 cases.
The President on Tuesday announced that the new measures will see the whole of South Africa move into alert level 3.
In a bid to stop the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, the President has since instituted alcohol sales restrictions, tightened the curfew and slashed the number of people who are allowed at gatherings.
This comes after a meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet.
In a televised address to the nation, the President said with the third wave of infections upon the nation, every precaution must be taken to contain the spread of infections.
“We have to contain this new wave of infections,” he warned.
The latest data show that the country finds itself in heightened crisis mode, with hospital admissions soaring and private hospitals almost full.
Meanwhile, South Africa is witnessing an average of 7 500 daily infections, with Gauteng driving the resurgence, accounting for about two-thirds of new cases over the last week.
“We have to act decisively and quickly to save lives. And to do this, we need to return to the basics,” said President Ramaphosa.
South Africa’s new curfew that now starts from 10pm to 4am.
The President stressed that non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres need to be closed by 9pm to allow employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.
While gatherings are still allowed, the President said they would now be limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
“Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used,” he explained.
This includes religious services, political events and social gatherings, restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places.
The number of mourners who can attend funerals and cremations has been slashed to 50.
The President encouraged people to observe social distancing and health protocols.
However, night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and “after-tears” gatherings are strictly forbidden.
Government has once again re-imposed alcohol sale limits.
According to the President, alcohol will now be allowed to be sold between Monday and Thursday from 10am to 6pm, while restaurants can only serve alcohol until 9pm. This excludes public holidays.
“Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted, as per licence conditions, up to 9pm,” he said.
Meanwhile, drinking alcohol in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is not permissible.
“If we act too soon, or impose measures that are too severe, the economy will suffer. At the same time, if we act too late, or if our response is too weak, we risk losing control of the virus,” said President Ramaphosa.
Meanwhile, the President said government is focusing on making sure there are enough hospital beds, health workers, ventilators and oxygen to give the best possible care.
He has since called on citizens to continue to practice the basic essential precautions.
“It remains mandatory for every person to wear a face mask that always covers their nose and mouth at all times when in public spaces. It is a criminal offence not to do so,” he said.