Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Pretoria: The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Tuesday provided detail on South Africa’s move to level 3 of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Briefing the media virtually, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said the country finds itself in a grave situation, as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.

The Minister’s comments following an address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night, wherein he announced that South Africa has reverted to level 3 of lockdown, up from level 1.

The briefing was on developments in relation to the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Last night, the President warned us of the dangers. He warned us that we have to stick to the health protocols and change our behaviour,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

The Minister said many of the regulations were “not really new”.

Under adjusted alert level 3, every person is confined to their place of residence from 9pm until 6am daily. Those flouting the curfew would be committing an offence, for which a person would be liable for a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

The Minister said the wearing of masks is mandatory.

“Government doesn’t want to arrest anyone. Please just wear your mask. [It is] not the aim of government to take people to prison,” she said.

Meanwhile, the closing time for cinemas, theatres, casinos, museums, galleries and archives, gyms and fitness centres, restaurants, venues hosting auctions and venues hosting professional sport is now set at 8pm. This is whether indoors or outdoors.

In outdoor settings, a cap is placed at 100 persons. However, if the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least 1.5 metres from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.

Funerals

On funerals, which have the capacity to become super-spreaders, Dlamini-Zuma emphasised that the number of people allowed at funerals has been cut back to 50.

“We were at 100 before but now we have to be 50, sitting 1.5 metre apart,” she said, adding that should a venue not be able to accommodate the 1.5m distance between mourners, then only half the number of people would be allowed to attend the funeral.

In addition, funerals are not allowed to take longer than two hours, with night vigils and “after tears” gatherings still not allowed.

Beaches

The Minister said beaches in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces are now closed to the public, with the exception of beaches in the Northern Cape, which has not been designated as a hotspot area.

Northern Cape beaches will open between 6am and 7pm, and be monitored for compliance with all health protocols and social distancing measures.

The closure of beaches and restrictions does not apply to fishermen for fishing purposes, who are in possession of a permit or exemption granted in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 (Act No. 18 of 1998).

In addition, non-compliance with the prohibitions, conditions and hours of opening of beaches will result in the closure of those beaches throughout the festive season.

Game parks, hotels

Meanwhile, all public swimming pools, including recreational facilities at such places, are closed to the public.

However, game parks, botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos, where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place, will remain open to the public.

Hotels and lodges will remain open and can be filled to capacity, but in public/common spaces, they will have to observe 1.5m social distancing.

Liquor and international travel

The sale and dispensing of liquor for off-site consumption and for on-site consumption is prohibited.

When coming to international travel, the country’s 18 land borders, which were partially operational, will be fully operational. The 34 land borders, which were closed, will remain closed, except for the Kosibay Port of Entry, which will reopen on 1 January 2021.

Travelling to and from the Republic is allowed. All international travel is permitted, subject to the traveller providing a valid certificate of a negative test obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel.

“In terms of South African regulations, people can still travel,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

Faith gatherings and the sale of tobacco

Dlamini-Zuma said faith-based gatherings are not allowed.

“In terms of faith gatherings, these will not be allowed for two weeks,” she said.

Meanwhile, the sale of tobacco remains permissible.

Level 3 restrictions will remain in place until 15 January 2021.