President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the classification of new COVID-19 hotspots in South Africa, as well as new nationwide lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 cases in South Africa.
In an address to the nation on Monday 14 December, Ramaphosa said that the Sarah Baartman district in the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route district in the Western Cape are now COVID-19 hotspots.
These hotspots are classified by analysing the number of new COVID-19 cases that occur per day, the testing rate within the population, the positivity rate within the population, and the number of cases and deaths.
These areas will be subject to the same restrictions as those announced previously for Nelson Mandela Bay, the first COVID-19 hotspot to be classified as such in South Africa, from midnight tonight.
Nationwide lockdown rules
Ramaphosa also announced new nationwide restrictions that will apply from midnight tonight.
These include the following:
- Further enforcement of level 1 restrictions across the country.
- Employers and managers of premises are obliged by law to ensure that all people within their buildings wear masks.
- Gatherings may not be attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor venues. At all times, the number of people at a gathering may not exceed 50% of the carrying capacity of the venue.
- All post-funeral gatherings are prohibited.
- Beaches and public parks will be closed from 16 December to 3 January in areas of high infection.
- Hours of the curfew will start at 23:00 and end at 04:00.
- Non-essential establishments including restaurants and bars will have to close at 22:00.
- Sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted from 10:00 to 18:00 from Monday until Thursday.
- Alcohol consumption in all public spaces is strictly prohibited.
These restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the pandemic across the country, Ramaphosa said.
A dangerous Christmas
Ramaphosa warned of the potential for COVID-19 to spread quickly over the festive season.
“The cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in our country stands at 866,127. These figures are cause for great concern,” Ramaphosa said.
“There can no longer be any doubt that South Africa has entered a second wave of coronavirus infections.”
“Given the rate at which new cases have grown over the last two weeks, there is every possibility that if we do not act urgently and if we do not act together, the second wave will be more severe than the first wave,” he added.
The four provinces that are leading the second wave are the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Gauteng.
Ramaphosa said that key contributors to the second wave of COVID-19 cases are social gatherings and parties, which are the largest source of outbreaks.
He noted the recent post-matric Rage festival in KwaZulu-Natal was a harsh reminder of how dangerous these gatherings can be.
“Unless we do things differently, this will be the last Christmas for many South Africans,” Ramaphosa said.