The sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol has been suspended with immediate effect.
President Ramaphosa announced this while addressing the nation on progress in the national effort to contain the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The president added that the decision was taken in order to conserve hospital capacity.
“There is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma,” he said.
According to the president, the majority of trauma injuries occur at night and, therefore, a curfew will be put in place between the hours of 9pm and 4am as an additional measure to reduce the pressure on hospitals.
“Apart from people who need to travel to and from work or who need to seek urgent medical or other assistance during this time, everyone will be required to remain at home.”
The curfew takes effect from Monday, 13 July 2020 at 9pm.
In terms of a possible return to higher alert levels, the president indicated that the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet had received advice that returning all or parts of the country to a higher alert level, either to level 4 or level 5, would “not necessarily achieve a significant reduction in the rate of transmission and would come at an extraordinary economic cost, putting more livelihoods at risk and potentially causing long-lasting social harm”.
The president added that, as South Africa now approaches the peak of infections, government needs to take extra precautions and tighten existing measures to slow down the rate of transmission.
“On the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, Cabinet has therefore decided that the country will remain at alert level 3 at this time, but that we should however strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and take certain additional measures.”
Measures to be taken include strengthening regulations on the wearing of masks.
“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.”
The president announced that all workplaces and 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.
Taxis on local trips will now be able to increase their capacity to 100%, while long distance taxis will not be allowed to exceed 70% occupancy, on condition that new risk mitigation protocols related to masks, vehicle sanitising and open windows are followed.
The president called for the indoor environment of public places where the risk of infection is greatest to be improved as evidence is emerging that the virus may also be carried in tiny particles in the air in places that are crowded, closed or have poor air circulation.
“We must increase natural ventilation, avoid the recirculation of air and minimise the number of people sharing the same space. We must do this in all heath care facilities, nursing homes, shops, offices, workplaces, schools, restaurants and public transport.”
The president announced that scientists and other scenario planners predict that South Africa may have between 40,000 and 50,000 deaths before the end of the year.
“We must make it our single most important task to prove these projections wrong. Through our own actions – as individuals, as families, as communities – we can and we must change the course of this pandemic in our country.”
The president indicated that, as part of the easing of restrictions on activities that pose a lower risk of infection and are important for economic or educational purposes, all auctions will now be permitted subject to protocols similar to those that currently apply to agricultural auctions and parks will be open for exercise, but not for gatherings.
However, family visits and other social activities cannot be given the green light at this stage due to the high risk factor.
The president announced that Cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster to 15 August 2020.
“There is no way that we can avoid the coronavirus storm. But we can limit the damage that it can cause to our lives. As a nation we have come together to support each other, to provide comfort to those who are ill and to promote acceptance of people living with the virus.”