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Ramaphosa announces tighter restrictions ahead of festive season

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Ramaphosa said if tighter restrictions are not applied, this Christmas season could be the last for many.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation to provide an update on South Africa’s risk adjusted strategy to fight Covid-19. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced tighter restrictions on public gatherings and a longer curfew as the country heads into the festive season as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise.

Ramphosa addressed the nation on Monday night saying the rise in cases over the past couple of days is worrying and a clear indicator that the country had entered a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Monday, the country had recorded 866 127 coronavirus cases.

The president’s address follows an address earlier this month where he declared Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality as a hotspot region with tighter restrictions. The government has now also declared the Garden Route region and the Sarah Baartman districts in the Western Cape as hotspots and the same restrictions applied in NMB will apply in these areas. The restrictions will apply from midnight.

Ramaphosa said if tighter restrictions are not applied, this Christmas season could be the last for many and so the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to also impose tighter national restrictions ahead of the festive season from December 16.

New measures include:

A stricter application of lockdown rules especially on the wearing of masks in public spaces and office buildings. Those who do not comply could face fines and six months in prison.

Ramaphosa said current restrictions on public gatherings were not enough and new restrictions would now limit no more than a 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events.

All post-funeral gatherings, such as “after tears”, will be banned.

The president said with beaches and public parks, a differentiated approach would be applied. In areas with high infections such as Garden Route and the Eastern Cape, all public beaches and parks will be closed from December 16 to January 3rd.

And for beaches in KwaZulu Natal, these will remain closed on the busiest days such as December 16, 26, 31 and January 1 and 3rd.

All festivals and gatherings will be banned from public beaches which will only remain operational from 9 am to 6 pm.

The president said alcohol will only be sold from Mondays to Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm.

A curfew will also come into effect from 11 pm to 4 am throughout the festive season.

Ramaphosa said these measure will only be reviewed in January and will be dependent on the level of cases in the country. He said there is no need to apply a stricter lockdown at the moment as the country was prepared to deal with rising cases.

His biggest plea was South Africans to adhere to regulations during the festive season and only host small events.