SA surpassed the one-million mark of confirmed Covid-19 cased on Sunday, and it came as no surprise that Pres Cyril Ramaphosa announced he would address the nation on Monday. While speculation spread on the return of higher lockdown levels due to the surge in infections and the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant, 501.V2, it was announced that the country would be put under lockdown level 3 with adjusted restrictions. Reckless behaviour originating from alcohol intoxication greatly increased infections and alcohol-related accidents and violence, which is putting substantial strain on hospital emergency units.
Despite the liquor industry being a substantial employer and a great contributor to the economy, the sale of alcohol by retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol will further be prohibited, with the regulations being up for review within the next couple of weeks should there be a noticeable decline in hospital admissions. In addition, another culprit in the spread of the virus are the so-called superspreader events, including end-of-year functions, social and family gatherings, and musical and cultural events. This is a great cause for alarm, and it indicates a significant lack of vigilance over the holiday period, according to Ramaphosa.
In addition to the ban on alcohol, the curfew hours have been extended from 21:00 until 06:00. Only permitted workers may be outside of their place of residence during these hours and all non-essential establishments must close at 20:00. It is mandatory that all persons who go out into public wear a cloth mask that covers the nose and the mouth. Anyone who does not comply will be committing an offence and on conviction, they will be liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.