During an address to the nation last week, president Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would move to an adjusted Alert Level 3 lockdown.
The move was in response to a rapid rise in infections and the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19.
According to the president, the rapid rise in infections is being “fuelled by so-called super-spreader events, including like end-of-year functions, family and social gatherings, and music and cultural events”.
The president also pointed out that the consumption of alcohol in restaurants, nightclubs and taverns has contributed to risky behaviour such as not wearing masks and not observing social distancing.
Measures contained in the adjusted Level 3 regulations include:
• All indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited for 14 days, except for funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos – to be reviewed after 14 days.
• Funerals may not be attended by more than 50 people with social distancing.
• Every business premises must determine the maximum number of staff and customers permitted at any one time based on our social-distancing guidelines and may not exceed that limit.
• The nationwide curfew extended from 9pm to 6am. Apart from permitted workers and for medical and security emergencies, nobody is allowed outside their place of residence during curfew.
• Non-essential establishments – including shops, restaurants, bars and all cultural venues – must close at 8pm.
The president also highlighted that the adjusted Level 3 regulations make every individual legally responsible for wearing a mask in public.
“From now on it is compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space. A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence”, he said.
People not wearing masks can be arrested and prosecuted.
“On conviction, they will be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.”
The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol was also banned with the president indicating that the measures on alcohol may be reviewed within the next few weeks “if we see a sustained decline in infections and hospital admissions”.
The president declared that the “adjusted Level 3 regulations will keep the economy open while strengthening measures to reduce transmission”.
22 districts were also declared coronavirus hotspots with all beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas closed to the public.
The president also confirmed that South Africa is part of the first group of countries that will receive an allocation of vaccines from COVAX with delivery expected in the second quarter of 2021.
The Level 3 restrictions will remain in place until 15 January 2021.