Booze sales restricted, curfew tightened and size of gatherings reduced: SA moved to lockdown level 3

President Cyril Ramaphosa says rising Covid-19 cases, particularly in Gauteng, are of major concern

15 June 2021 - 20:20
By Amanda Khoza and TimesLIVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: GCIS President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday moved the country to lockdown level 3 amid a surge of Covid-19 cases, particularly in Gauteng.

The president’s address follows a meeting of the national coronavirus command council, the president’s co-ordinating council and cabinet.

During a national address, Ramaphosa said a third wave of infections “is upon us”.

“The massive surge in new infections means that we must again tighten restrictions. Cabinet has decided to move the country to alert level 3. This will take effect later this evening once the regulations have been gazetted,” Ramaphosa said.

The new regulations mean that, among other things, alcohol sales have been restricted, the national curfew tightened, and the numbers of people allowed to attend gatherings reduced.

The restrictions announced by Ramaphosa included:

  • The hours of curfew will start at 10pm and end at 4am; 
  • Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres will need to close by 9pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew;
  • All gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people 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. This includes religious services, political events and social gatherings, as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places;
  • Attendance at funerals and cremations may not exceed 50 people and all social distancing and health protocols must be observed. Night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed;
  • The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will only be permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. This excludes public holidays. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 9pm. Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden.

“A third wave of infections is upon us. We have to contain this new wave of infections. Since I last spoke to you just over two weeks ago, the average number of daily new infections has doubled. Then, we were recording around 3,700 daily infections. Over the last seven days, we have recorded an average of 7,500 daily infections,” said Ramaphosa.

Hospital admissions due to Covid-19 over the last 14 days were 59% higher than the preceding 14 days.

“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. With the exception of Northern Cape, all provinces are experiencing rising infections.

“Four provinces — Gauteng, Free State, North West and Northern Cape — are officially in a third wave, while others are approaching that point. The proportion of Covid tests that are positive — the so-called positivity rate — is continuing to rise in Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

“Of these, Gauteng has been the worst hit. It accounts for nearly two-thirds of new cases measured over the last week. The increase in infections in Gauteng is now faster and steeper than it was at the same time in previous waves. Within a matter of days, it is likely that the number of new cases in Gauteng will surpass the peak of the second wave,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that as the country rolls out its national Covid-19 vaccination programme, government and social partners are continuously monitoring infection, treatment and patient recovery rates, as well as compliance with health regulations and other prevention measures.