Ramaphosa to address the nation tonight on Covid-19 pandemic

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 20h00 this evening on South Africa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The address follows a special sitting of Cabinet that considered recommendations of the National Coronavirus Command Council.

The president is expected to address the nation on the national government’s interventions to combat the surge in coronavirus cases in hotspot areas in some parts of South Africa.

He will likely announce a number of new measures in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, which have seen a spike in cases in recent weeks.

In South Africa, as of 2 December there have been 4,173 new cases, taking the total reported to 796,472. Deaths have reached 21,709 (a daily increase of 65), while recoveries have climbed to 734,305, leaving the country with a balance of 40,458 active cases.

The Western Cape has the highest number of active cases in the county, with 12,031 people currently infected with the virus. 4,701 people have died as a result of the virus. The Eastern Cape meanwhile follows closely behind, with 10,144 active cases, and 4,678 deaths.

 Nelson Mandela Bay acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye said that the metro is ‘anxiously awaiting’ an announcement from the presidency around new restrictions.

“If it means people must not move around as a matter of saving lives, I’m sure that is the route that we will take. Most of that will come when the president speaks to us,” he said.

The acting mayor said that officials met with the president on Wednesday.

Sources who sat in on government’s National Coronavirus Command Council meeting this week indicate that the country’s coronavirus hotspots could face the following additional restrictions:

  • The introduction of a 22h00 curfew, with restaurants closed by 21h00;
  • A ban on the consumption of alcohol in public areas;
  • Restricting gatherings — with funerals and church services set to be limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors;
  • The shuttering of public open spaces, which may include beaches.

Nelson Mandela Bay said that alcohol is a particular problem, and wants taverns to only allow ‘take-aways’.

“Taverns and shebeens must only sell take-aways, that is what they have put forward and we have submitted and are awaiting a response. If it is not regulated it becomes difficult to enforce because might open and trade and there will be no regulation that says they can’t do that.

“We submitted to the Province to make sure that it must find expression in the regulation so that law enforcement will know what to do,” Buyeye said.

The possible reintroduction of restrictions has already faced fierce opposition from business and opposition parties as they come as the country prepares to enter peak holiday season over December.

The DA said that the recommendations will devastate the economy as well as thousands of restaurants across the country that have only begun to find their feet again following the initial lockdown.

“These are also not sustainable solutions going forward as businesses cannot factor in a ‘stop/start’ approach every time there is a wave of Covid-19,” said Dean Macpherson, who heads up Trade an Industry at the DA.

Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) chief executive Wendy Alberts said that the country’s restaurants would be severely impacted by a lockdown as the country moves into the holiday season.

She said that the government has not consulted with the industry about its plans to reintroduce further restrictions.

“We are certainly going to challenge any restriction that has been placed on the restaurant industry.

“We want all restaurants to let us know if any authority has been in touch with them in the last month advising them that there is Covid-19 in their establishment.”

Read: New alcohol restrictions for South Africa will devastate parts of the economy

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Ramaphosa to address the nation tonight on Covid-19 pandemic