President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation following a surge in COVID-19 cases in parts of South Africa.
Many experts think he will announce regional restrictions on alcohol sales and a slightly longer curfew.
News24 reported that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has agreed to a few interventions for hotspots:
- The curfew should be 22:00 to 04:00.
- Alcohol sales should be restricted to Monday to Thursday.
- Pubs, taverns, and restaurants should be shut at 21:00.
- The consumption of alcohol should be banned in public areas like beaches and parks.
- Public gatherings should be limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.
These restrictions are likely to be focused on areas where COVID-19 cases spiked in recent weeks, notably the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde recently said he is deeply concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations in the province.
This growth is primarily driven by two districts in the Western Cape – the Garden Route and the Cape Metro.
“My biggest concern is for our health platform, which is under growing pressure. We need to ensure that every person gets healthcare when they need it,” Winde said.
A similar situation is playing itself out in the Eastern Cape, which prompted Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize to visit medical facilities in the province to assess its readiness for the spike in cases.
Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the coronavirus hotspots in the province, which forced the Eastern Cape Department of Health to launch a new testing and tracing programme in the metro.
Ramaphosa to address the nation
ENCA reported that President Ramaphosa is “expected to call a family meeting this evening”.
Speaking to ENCA, health economics expert Professor Alex van den Heever predicted regional restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
He said these restrictions are necessary because complacency has developed in certain regions and it is becoming more general.
“We should see very localized restrictions targeting any form of mass gathering that is indoors and where people are not wearing masks for long periods of time,” he said.
He said these restrictions will not have a big economic impact except for the effect on the local businesses like restaurants, taverns, and pubs.
Should Ramaphosa announce new regional restrictions, it will not come as a surprise.
Mkhize previously said they are discussing additional lockdown restrictions to control the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in areas such as Nelson Mandela Bay.
“When we see the numbers that we do now, we need to start restricting the hours of movement, particularly in the evening,” he said.
“We also have to look at the numbers in the hospitals to look at the impact of alcohol-induced pressure and start discussing issues in that regard.”
MyBroadband contacted Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale for confirmation that Ramaphosa is set to address the nation, but he said nothing has been confirmed.
“Announcements are typically only made when the president is ready to speak,” Seale said.