The Sarah Baartman and Garden Route Districts have been declared COVID-19 hotspots.
President Ramaphosa announced this in an address to the nation last night on progress in the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president added that the declarations follow visits by the health minister, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, to the two districts and consultations with various stakeholders.
“This all means that the same additional restrictions that we applied to Nelson Mandela Bay will apply in these districts from midnight tonight and will continue until we see a clear and sustained decline in infections,” he said.
The president confirmed that South Africa has entered a second wave of the pandemic with 8000 new cases recorded on 13 December 2020.
“Given the rate at which new cases have grown over the last two weeks, there is every possibility that if we do not act urgently and if we do not act together, the second wave will be more severe than the first wave”, he said.
The president also pointed out that the daily average of COVID-19 deaths has increased by nearly 50% over the past week from just over 100 deaths a day to just over 150 deaths.
The president highlighted that gatherings, in particular social gatherings and parties, are the largest source of outbreaks with increased travel another contributing factor.
According to the president, the festive season now poses the greatest threat to the health and well-being of the nation and to the recovery of the economy.
“If we do not do things differently this festive season, we will greet the new year not with joy, but with sorrow,” he said.
“It is therefore essential that we take extraordinary measures to contain the second wave and save lives, while working to protect livelihoods,” he added.
The president confirmed that consultations in provinces, including at municipal level, have been undertaken on measures that need to be taken to contain the second wave.
The National Coronavirus Command Council and the President’s Coordinating Council have also been deliberating on an appropriate response.
Following recommendations, cabinet has decided to impose further restrictions nation-wide:
• Stricter enforcement of existing alert level 1 restrictions throughout the country during the festive season and beyond – focus on mask wearing;
• Measures to reduce the risk of super-spreading events. Gatherings – including religious gatherings – may not be attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events – total number of people in a venue may not exceed more than 50% of the capacity of the venue and all post-funeral gatherings, including ‘after-tears’ parties, are prohibited.
• In areas with the highest rate of infection, beaches and public parks will be closed for the duration of the festive season from the 16th of December to the 3rd of January – applicable to the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route district in the Western Cape. Beaches and public parks in KwaZulu-Natal to close on 16th, 25th, 26th and 31st of December 2020 and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of January 2021. Beaches and public parks of the Northern Cape and the Western Cape – with the exception of the Garden Route – to remain open to the public over the festive season. Festivals, live music, and live performances at beaches are prohibited and beaches and parks to be open between 9am and 6pm.
• The curfew to be extended starting at 11pm and ending at 4am. Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, to close at 10pm. The sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. Registered wineries and wine farms to continue offering tastings and wine sales to the public for off-site consumption over weekends.
The president confirmed that the “festive season restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the pandemic across the country”.