President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will be entering an adjusted level 3 lockdown from midnight, extending the curfew and restricting alcohol sales.
Ramaphosa said that effective immediately, alcohol sales for off-site consumption will be restricted to between Monday and Thursday from 10:00 to 18:00. This excludes public holidays.
On-site consumption of alcohol at restaurants will still be allowed as per their licence conditions, up to 21:00.
Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, including parks and beaches, is strictly prohibited.
The hours of curfew will be extended to between 22:00 and 04:00 and public gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
Non-essential facilities like restaurants, bars, and fitness centres will need to close at 21:00 to allow staff to return home before curfew.
Attendance at funerals and cremations may not exceed 50 people and all safety and health protocols must be observed.
“The massive surge in new infections means that we must once again tighten restrictions on the movements of persons and gatherings,” Ramaphosa stated.
“We need to enforce compliance more rigorously and we need to take firmer action against those that do not adhere to the regulations that save our lives.”
The increase of South Africa’s lockdown alert level comes amidst a surge of Covid-19 cases and reports of extremely high occupancy at hospitals.
Ramaphosa said that hospital admissions for Covid-19 over the last 14 days are 59% higher than the preceding two weeks.
South Africa recorded 8,881 new cases on Wednesday 9 June, a level last seen during the second wave.
Similarly high numbers of daily new cases were recorded between Thursday and Sunday, and today (Tuesday, 15 June) the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported that there were 8,436 new Covid-19 cases in South Africa.
The average number of daily new cases reported over the past week was 7,500, Ramaphosa stated.
Gauteng has been particularly hard-hit, recording thousands of new cases every day compared to the hundreds of new cases the other provinces have been reporting.
Ramaphosa said that private hospitals in Gauteng have reported that they are near capacity, and that within a matter of days the number of new cases in Gauteng is expected to exceed the peak of the second wave.
The NICD recorded an increase of 1,415 hospital admissions and 157 in-hospital deaths in the past 24 hours.
South Africa is officially the nation worst affected by coronavirus on the African continent with over 58,000 deaths and nearly 1.8 million confirmed infections.
Ramaphosa said that the obstacles hindering South Africa’s rapid vaccine rollout have been resolved and that the country is finally on the path of controlling the disease.
“Although we have reason to hope, we still have a mountain a climb,” he said.
“I know that we have grown impatient with the constraints that have been placed on our lives,” said Ramaphosa.
“I fully understand that you are all concerned about constraints that restrict your freedom to move around or to travel; your freedom to gather, to socialise, to worship; and, in some instances, your freedom to even earn a living.”
“Yet we also know that these restrictions have been effective in containing the spread of the virus.”