For the second time this month President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation about COVID-19 developments. But, this time, the bad news came with an alcohol ban and escalated Level 4 restrictions.
On Sunday, the president was a lot more forthcoming about the tracing efforts led by leading scientists in pinning down the root cause of this third wave which, by the looks of it, threatens to be the worst version of the pandemic yet.
‘Delta variant is spreading like wildfire’ – Ramaphosa
At the ‘family meeting’, Ramaphosa revealed that contrary to murmurs that’ve been doing the rounds about a regional lockdown escalation, the entire country would be placed under Level 4 lockdown from Monday.
This, he said, was due to a number of factors, two of which are the most crucial: high pressure on the public healthcare system and the rapid spread of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in India (the Delta).
The president revealed that this move, which came two weeks after South Africa was moved to Level 3, comes at the advise of the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the National Coronavirus Command Council.
“The evidence we have is that the Delta variant is rapidly displacing the Beta variant, which has been dominant in our country until now. We are concerned about the rapid spread of this variant. Firstly, because it is more transmissible than previously circulating viruses, meaning it is easier to catch through person-to-person contact,” Ramaphosa said
Currently, the Delta variant is spreading at a rapid pace in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
Alcohol ban and these other Level 4 restrictions
At this time, not enough data exists to give scientists a clearer picture of the threat that confronts South Africa, now that the COVID-19 variant first discovered in India is the main culprit behind the third wave.
In a bid to manage the impending health crisis that could cripple the country’s healthcare system, Ramaphosa announced a string of new restrictions under advanced Level 4 lockdown, which include:
- Closure of all indoor and outdoor gatherings. This includes religious and social gatherings;
- Funerals and cremations limited to 50 people;
- Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings are not allowed;
- Beaches and parks will remain open, but gatherings at such public spaces are prohibited;
- Curfew times have been changed to 21:00 – 04:00;
- The sale of alcohol is prohibited for two weeks;
- Leisurely travel in and out of Gauteng is only permitted for business reasons. People will be allowed to return home to the province if they are currently elsewhere in the country;
- Visits to old age homes and care facilities are prohibited;
- Restaurants are restricted to selling food for takeaway and deliveries;
- Schools will close from Wednesday 30 June.
- All contact classes at universities and other tertiary facilities will stop on Wednesday.
These restrictions will be revised on Sunday 11 July 2021. The full regulations and guidelines on the different lockdown levels can be read on this page.