NATIONAL NEWS - Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addressed the nation to further explain the newly gazetted lockdown Level 2 regulations.
A number of sectors will open for business on Tuesday, including the hospitality and tourism industry, gyms and fitness centres, and entertainment facilities such as cinemas and theatres.
Dlamini-Zuma said government continues to walk the tightrope of balancing the saving of lives and livelihoods, and thanked every South African for their contribution, but emphasised that the fight was not yet over.
She explained that easing restrictions meant the country ran the risk of further spreading the virus, and with no word on when a vaccine would be developed, citizens must continue to wear masks, sanitise their hands and adhere to a 1.5m social distance.
“We could still be called upon to make further sacrifices,” she added.
She said the virus hit the country at a particularly bad time, when the economy was not in a good space and healthcare and education systems were already under strain.
As a result, unemployment, hunger and the majority of citizens still not having access to basic services such as water and electricity have been exacerbated.
However, there is some hope.
After the rapid rise in infections between June and July, daily increases in infections are stabilising, with noticeable differences in the Western Cape and Gauteng. She said KwaZulu-Natal still provided “some challenges”.
South Africa’s current recovery rate stands at 80%, with a fatality rate of less than 2%, which Dlamini-Zuma said “suggests prevention measures South Africa implemented have been effective”.
She said stringent protocols in the form of alcohol and tobacco bans, curfews and certain sectors remaining closed during Level 3 had opened up much-needed hospital capacity, including ICUs, and the availability of ventilators.
This means the building of field hospitals will be temporarily suspended, to redirect effort to maintain and upgrade existing facilities.
Here is what will change under lockdown Level 2:
- There will still be a curfew from 10pm to 4am.
- Interprovincial travel is permitted, and accommodation facilities can resume business, provided they operate at 50% capacity and adhere to social distancing.
- Liquor will be back on the shelves on Tuesday, and will be sold throughout the country from Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm.
- Bars, taverns, shebeens and restaurants can serve alcohol to patrons, provided they limit their patron intake to 50 people or less.
- Cigarettes will return to stores on Tuesday. Dlamini-Zuma implored smokers not to share cigarettes.
The following leisure activities have finally been permitted:
Beaches and public parks; museums, galleries and libraries; sports grounds and fields; gyms and fitness centres, provided a maximum of 50 people are on the property at any given time. Cinemas, theatres and live performance venues may reopen, if they limit the amount of people to 50. Casinos will also be allowed to operate, but only at 50% capacity.
People may now visit friends and family members, provided there is a maximum of 10 visitors at a time.
Auctions will be allowed to resume, but must adhere to strict health protocols and social distancing.
Weddings may now take place, provided there is a maximum of 50 people on the premises.
Piercing and tattoo parlours will reopen.
Although sports matches may resume, spectators are still prohibited, and international sports events are not yet allowed.
What is still banned?
Night clubs will remain closed. Dlamini-Zuma said it had been observed that young people, many of whom often do not know they are infected, can easily pass the virus on to older people.
She said because of this, and the fact that people over 60 years of age are at risk of contracting the virus and dying, nightclubs will not be opened yet.
Cruise ships for leisure will also not be allowed to set sail yet.
No night vigils are allowed.
Dlamini-Zuma sought to remind South Africans to drink responsibly, and never to get behind the wheel while drunk.
She said the country’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 could not tire now, and that the country should not “become lax over health protocols.”
“We must take it as a way of life now. We must get used to it. We must protect each other. We are not safe until we are all safe.”