Update: During his address on Thursday meeting, President Cyril Ramaphosa cracked the whip on the resurgence in the Eastern Cape, more specifically, the Nelson Mandela Bay. Effective from Thursday midnight, Ramaphosa said the following would come into effect:
- A curfew from 10pm to 4am. This applies to everyone except essential workers who are permitted to work during those hours, or for emergencies.
- Alcohol can only be sold between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday.
- Public consumption of alcohol, such as beaches and parks, is ‘strictly forbidden’ (bye #Dezemba).
- Indoor gatherings (incl. religious gatherings) cannot exceed 100 people and outdoor gatherings cannot exceed 250 people.
- The number of people in a venue may not exceed 50% of that venue’s capacity.
- All post-funeral gatherings (after tears) are prohibited.
As far as the whole country is concerned, Ramaphosa said the following:
- All level 1 restrictions apply.
- In the last three weeks, there has been a significant increase in new cases: in the first week of November, there was an average of 1 500 new cases a day, but by late November, this had almost doubled to around 2 900 cases a day.
- On Wednesday, South Africa recorded its largest daily increase in infections since the middle of August of 4 400.
- Hospital admissions is at 5 800 nationally from 4 900 three weeks ago.
Read the whole speech here.
Put those beach plans on hold: for those of us living in Covid-19 hotspots, or heading there for the holidays, Dezemba is about to be severely curtailed . President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to make an announcement about this on Thursday evening. At the time of writing, nothing had been confirmed yet. But if leaks to journalists are anything to go by, localised restrictions may be announced in the next two weeks because of infection spikes in certain areas. Both News24 and Business Day report that hotspots like Cape Town, the Garden Route and parts of the Eastern Cape, will be facing tighter restrictions on booze and gatherings.
The Eastern Cape has reportedly asked Ramaphosa, provincial leadership and the National Coronavirus Command Council to close its beaches too.
This, as the province sees an alarming hike in cases. Nelson Mandela Bay alone now counts for more than 50% of the country’s cases, according to TimesLive. Annual matric Rage parties along the country’s coastal towns are possible super-spreader events, experts have warned, but many of these post-matric gatherings are going ahead anyway.
Gauteng is still on the ‘safe side’, so greater restrictions are not needed, yet. BUT the province, the economic hub of the country, is at risk with people bringing back the virus from coastal areas after the holidays… which could then lead to a national second wave early next year.
On the bright side, SA is much better equipped to handle a resurgence now, with our experience of the disease and our beefed up medical facilities. Still, our system is not bullet-proof, and it’s no reason to get complacent. 2020 has been a rough year and we all need to unwind, but keep doing it safely.
This article was originally published in The Wrap here.