Monday, 17 August 2020

Pretoria: While government continues to ease lockdown restrictions, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has urged the public to be vigilant and stick to the health protocols.

“While home visits are allowed, let’s stick to the health protocols of wearing masks, washing hands, sanitising and social distancing, so that your visits don’t turn into grief,” Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.

Dlamini-Zuma and Ministers serving on NCCC briefed the media on Monday on the lockdown level 2 regulations, which were gazetted today.

From midnight on Monday, 17 August, restrictions that will be lifted following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Saturday, include social events at places of residence (subject to a limitation of 10 visitors or less), concerts and entertainment events (subject to a limitation of 50 people), as well as events at function venues, subject to a limitation of 50 people.

Fitness centres and gyms, including sports ground and fields, swimming pools, beaches and public parks will be opened, subject to a limitation of 50 people or less.

All accommodation establishments and tour operators will also be opened, subject to a restriction on the number of people allowed in the establishments to not more than 50% of the available floor space.

“The places are opened to the public, subject to all persons wearing face masks, and strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures, as provided for in the directions issued… after consultations with the Cabinet member responsible for Health,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

Ban on tobacco sale lifted

The sale of tobacco and tobacco products has been unbanned. However, the Minister warned smokers against sharing products, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The sale of alcohol at retail outlets will also reopen, however, with restrictions. Alcohol sales will only be between Monday and Thursday from 9am to 5pm.

“Alcohol can also be served by licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars and taverns daily, from 6am to 10pm. These establishments can only operate with a maximum of 50 patrons, so long as the health and hygiene protocols are observed. These include a 1.5 metre distance amongst the patrons, the sanitisation of surfaces, the washing of hands and the wearing of masks,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

Nightclubs to remain closed under level 2 of lockdown

While people will be able to buy alcohol and drink at restaurants, bars or shebeens, the doors of nightclubs will remain closed to the public under level 2 of the lockdown.

“Having seen how young people have carried the virus to the elderly from nightclubs, we’ll continue with our nightclubs closed,” Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said on Monday.

The Minister said South Africa has taken lessons from countries who have opened their nightclub scene.

“We’ve heard from other countries who opened up nightclubs. They had to close them pretty fast because the virus was moving as fast and as energetic as the people at the nightclub,” she said.

According to the gazetted Disaster Management Act, most businesses may now operate except for international passenger air travel for leisure, passenger ships for international leisure, attendance of any sporting event by spectators and international sports events.

“Businesses with more than 100 employees, working together in a group in the same floor space, must where possible, make provision for minimising the number of employees at the workplace at any given time,” the gazette reads.

This can be done through rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures to achieve social distancing and to limit congestion in public transport and at the workplace.

The gazette noted that under the National State of Disaster, all borders must remain shut.

However, this excludes ports of entry designated by the Cabinet member responsible for Home Affairs for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods, and entry of foreign sea crew for the exchange of sea crew.

In addition, borders will be open for humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies, the movement of staff of diplomatic and international organisations and other exceptions as may be determined by the Minister of Home Affairs.

Initiation schools

According to the level 2 regulations gazetted by the government, male and female initiation practices are prohibited for the duration of the National State of Disaster.

“A person may not arrange or hold an initiation school or conduct an initiation practice; a prospective initiate may not attend an initiation school and an owner of land may not provide consent for the use of his or her land for the holding of an initiation school,” said the gazette.

A traditional surgeon or medical practitioner may not perform circumcision as part of an initiation practice.

“The National House of Traditional Leaders and provincial houses of traditional leaders must take steps to ensure that traditional leaders are aware of the content of this regulation,” it noted.

Call for vigilance

Meanwhile, the Minister thanked South Africans for their contribution to the fight against COVID-19

“But the fight is not over, it’s continuing. Even though we have risked the restrictions, the risk is also increasing because it’s the people who move the virus,” she said.

She has urged people to remain vigilant to defeat the virus and work together to curb the transmission of the virus.

“Indeed, it’s in our hands and it’s not done until it’s done,” she said at the briefing held at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) head office.

South Africa moved to lockdown level 2 from midnight on 17 August 2020.