Booze ban, curfew back in place
Alcohol is once again off the table under the national state of the disaster, although the country will not return to a higher lockdown level for the moment.
In a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said there was clear evidence the availability of alcohol was putting huge pressure on hospitals which simply could not afford to treat alcohol-induced trauma patients when they had to attend to those battling Covid-19.
The sale and distribution of liquor is banned with immediate effect.
AnnouncingIn the public interest, most of our coronavirus news isn’t behind our paywall, and is free to read. To support our mission of delivering award-winning, independent local news, subscribe from as little as R45 per month by clicking here. that the state of disaster had been extended to August 15, Ramaphosa also reintroduced a curfew that will be in place between 9pm and 4am each day.
Family visits and other social activities will still not be allowed.
The president said the anticipated Covid-19 “storm” had now well and truly reached SA, with 276,242 confirmed cases having been recorded by Sunday night.
“We are recording 12,000 new cases every day. A total of 4,079 people have died from Covid-19. We should be deeply concerned that a quarter of those died in the last week,” he said.
Another adjustment to government's coronavirus response is that taxis undertaking long trips will have to adhere to 70% occupancy.
Local trips can have 100% capacity on condition that new risk mitigation protocols such as open windows, face masks and sanitation are followed.
Employers, shops and other businesses are now legally obliged to ensure everyone entering their premises wears a cloth face mask.
One of the few positives from the president's address is that parks will be open for exercise, but not gatherings.
Ramaphosa said while many people had taken the pandemic seriously, there were “some among us who continue to ignore regulations and act without any responsibility to protect themselves or protect and respect others”.
“People are organising parties and drinking sprees, and walk around without the protection of masks. Some people see no problem attending funerals where there are more than 50 people. This is how the virus is spreading — through carelessness and recklessness,” he said.
“Many are downplaying the seriousness of this virus. People are getting into a taxi without a face mask. We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic and we must act accordingly. We are not helpless in the face of this storm.”
He said while the surge was expected, the force and speed with which it had occurred caused a “great deal of concern”.
“The coronavirus is far fiercer than any storm than any we have ever known before. The surge of infections that our scientists predicted has arrived. Gauteng almost has a 100,000 confirmed cases and the Eastern Cape has 50,000. The Western Cape has almost 80,000 cases.
“Scientists estimate that there could be between 40,000 and 50,000 deaths before the end of the year. We need to prove these projections wrong. We must change the course of this pandemic in our country.”
He could not emphasise enough the importance of people wearing masks.
“A cloth mask is not something that is difficult to get. Even a piece of clothing can be used. There is growing evidence that the virus can be carried in air. We must immediately improve the indoor environment. We must do this everywhere. We have the power within ourselves to limit the damage this virus does.”
He said the government had taken important steps to strengthen its health response.
“We made available 28,000 hospital beds and constructed functional field hospitals. We have also made 37,000 quarantine beds available. We have also secured 1,700 additional ventilators.”
However, Ramaphosa acknowledged there was a health worker shortfall that was hampering these efforts. By the government's estimation an additional 12,000 nurses and doctors were still needed.
In the public interest, most of our coronavirus news isn’t behind our paywall, and is free to read. To support our mission of delivering award-winning, independent local news, subscribe from as little as R45 per month by clicking here.
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