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The sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol is now deemed illegal.

This was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his address to the country on Sunday evening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As South Africa is believed to be moving towards the peak of infections, Cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster to the 15th of August 2020.

In his address, Ramaphosa expressed concern over the many people who are downplaying the seriousness of the virus, despite all evidence to the contrary.

“We know of several tragic instances where people who have organised or attended social gatherings, including gatherings with family, have contracted the virus and have died.”

The reasoning behind the drastic move is to ensure that hospitals and trauma units are not filled up by those suffering from alcohol related injuries, but rather be available for COVID-19 patients.

The Medical Research Council has predicted that an alcohol ban of eight weeks could lead up to 50 000 fewer trauma cases at hospitals.

Ramaphosa urged South Africans to be responsible, careful and compassionate.

The taxi industry welcomed the change in regulations regarding their capacity. Taxis undertaking local trips have been given the green light to increase their capacity to 100%. Those taxis doing long distance trips will only be allowed to fill up to 70%.

According to Ramaphosa, the relaxed capacity restrictions will be allowed on the condition that new risk mitigation protocols related to masks, vehicle sanitising and open windows are followed.

A night curfew has also been reinstated. This comes after Ramaphosa said in his address that there is now clear evidence that the reopening of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma – mostly at night. Therefore, a curfew will be put in place between 21:00 and 04:00 starting from Monday 13 July at 21:00.

While parks will be open for business, no other forms of gathering will be allowed.

All auctions will be permitted, on the condition that they follow similar protocols currently applying to agricultural auctions.

Other measures to be taken to fight the spread of the virus that has brought the country’s economy and its people on its knees, include strengthening regulations on the wearing of masks.

“Employers, shop owners and managers, public transport operators, and managers and owners of any other public building are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask.”

Where possible, natural ventilation must increase. “Avoid the recirculation of air and minimise the number of people sharing the same space. We must do this in all health care facilities, nursing homes, shops, offices, workplaces, schools, restaurants and public transport.

The latest numbers on the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa are:

  • As of Sunday evening, there were 276 242 confirmed cases.
  • Over 12 000 new cases are recorded daily.
  • Since March, at least 4 079 people have died from COVID-19.

Family visits and other social activities and/or gatherings are still not permitted.

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