Smokers can breathe a sigh of relief as the sale of tobacco under the new level 3 rules.
Cape Town – It’s crunch time as the country shifts into an adjusted level 3 of the nationwide lockdown. The new restrictions come as the country’s health system is buckling under severe pressure.
On Tuesday, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) briefed the media on the new regulations.
Health Minister Zwelie Mkhizi said: “We are worried that the wave will be much bigger in Gauteng specifically. The majority of new cases today are from KwaZulu-Natal with 2 275 (30.5%) followed by Western Cape at 2 191 cases (29.4%), Gauteng at 1 849 cases (24.8%) and Eastern Cape at 384 cases (5.1%).”
Mkhizi said 11 256 patients are currently hospitalised – this is 8.3% of our active cases. Of these, 3 543 are on oxygen, and 604 are on ventilators.
“The safety of our healthcare workers remain paramount, and we are concerned by the rising numbers of professionals becoming infected with Covid-19 during this second wave,” he said.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the current Covid-19 crisis. His address followed meetings with stakeholders and government officials on Sunday when South Africa breached its one million cases mark.
Health authorities have been pleading with the government to implement more stringent measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Under the new level 3 regulations the curfew has now been moved to 9pm-6am, the sale of alcohol is prohibited, funerals are only allowed to be attended by a maximum of 50 people and the wearing of masks is mandatory.
Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said: “Businesses such as night clubs, bars and taverns and those associated with the sale of alcohol are not allowed to operate. All faith gatherings are not allowed for the two weeks. Inter-provincial travel is allowed as people are already on holidays and not at home.”
Previously under level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, the sale of tobacco products was prohibited. South Africa moved into level 3 back in September.
The prohibiting of the sale of tobacco opened the floodgates to the illicit trade market. It prompted British American Tobacco to drag the government to court to compel them to overturn the decision.
The Western Cape High Court ruled earlier this month that the sales ban of tobacco was “not necessary or consistent with the constitution”.
The court thwarted arguments put by Dlamini Zuma’s representation and declared Regulation 45 promulgated under the Disaster Management Act, under which the prohibition was put in place, to be unconstitutional and invalid.
Asking for clarity regarding the sale of tobacco, Dlamini-Zuma said: “I did not mention the sale of tobacco, but tobacco is allowed. For now.”
Police are expected to crack down on those who do not comply with the new regulations.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said police would not be afraid to make an arrest. “Our jobs will be to enforce the law. The issue of masks has been a problem. Now the enforcement has been heightened.When it comes to alcohol, it cannot be consumed anywhere. There is no movement of alcohol allowed. Our eyes are open on the black market front,” Cele said.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde welcomed the temporary restrictions.
“We, however, remain opposed to the closure of outdoor spaces such as beaches and parks. This goes against scientific advice that well-ventilated and outdoor spaces are safer.
“All restrictions introduced should be reconsidered after 14 days and be removed in places where they are no longer required. They should not be in place for a day longer than they are needed to save our healthcare system, and they need to be analysed against their results.”