President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the reintroduction of a number of lockdown restrictions as the country grapples with rising coronavirus cases.
In a national address on Sunday evening (12 July), Ramaphosa said that the country is now expecting a surge of infections and that the ‘storm is now upon us’.
He noted that the country has reported a total of 260,242 confirmed cases, with more than 12,000 new cases being reported every day. This means that there are effectively 500 new cases being reported every hour.
He added that more than 4,079 fatalities have been reported in the country to date. The president said that Gauteng is fast approaching 100,000 cases, while the Eastern Cape is approaching 50,000 cases. The Western Cape is soon set to hit 80,000 cases.
He said that the country’s provinces will see different ‘peaks’ in coronavirus cases between the end of July, to September.
“While the surge in infections is expected, the force and speed which they have progressed have quite understandably caused concern amongst us,” he said.
“The coronavirus storm is far fiercer and more destructive than any other we have experienced before.”
— Khusela Diko🇿🇦 (@KhuselaS) July 12, 2020
While most South Africans have taken steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus, president Ramaphosa said that there are some that continue to ignore regulations, and have failed to take steps to protect themselves and others.
This includes people who have organised parties and fail to wear masks in public places. The president said that there have also been a number of funerals with more than 50 people.
To this end, Ramaphosa said that the country’s National coronavirus Command Council deliberated on whether to return all or parts of the country to a higher lockdown level.
However, it noted that this was unlikely to decrease the number of coronavirus cases, while causing untold harm to the economy.
Instead, Ramaphosa said that government will be ‘tightening’ existing regulations including:
- The country will remain at lockdown level 3;
- The wearing of cloth masks will be mandatory including stricter rules around the wearing of masks at workplaces and while travelling. Further regulations on this issue are set to be gazetted at a later date;
- Taxis taking long trips will have to adhere to 70% occupancy. Taxis taking shorter trips may increase capacity to 100%, subject to strict health protocols;
- The sale, dispensing and distributing of alcohol has been suspended with immediate effect;
- A curfew will be put in place between 21h00 and 04h00, except for people who travel for work, or require urgent medical assistance. This curfew will come into effect from Monday (13 July);
- Parks will be opened for exercise, but will not be allowed for gathering purposes;
- Family visits and other social visits will remain prohibited.
President Ramaphosa added that the national state of disaster has been extended to 15 August as part of these new lockdown measures.
Further clarity on the new regulations are expected to be gazetted at a later date.