Third Wave Infections prompt Extension of Level 4

COVID Infection Waves
The Delta-Variant of the Coronavirus, which originates from India, is now wreaking havoc in the country with daily infections exceeding 20 000. More than half of the new cases occur currently in Gauteng while numbers are increasing in KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern and the Western Cape.

It came therefore not as a surprise when President Ramaphosa announced in the latest “Family Meeting” on Sunday night (11 July) that the current Alert Level 4 will be extended from 11 July to 25 July 2021 in order to manage infections.  The rules pertaining to this extension are very similar to the previous two weeks but show mercy for the restaurant industry and the gyms while continuing to ban the sale of alcohol and thereby driving this major part of the industry further into oblivion, despite the fact that TERS funding by the UIF is now extended as well.

Here is the summary of the amended Lockdown Rules, which are valid – for now – until 25 July 2021:

Curfew and Masks
It remains a criminal offence to not wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth while you are in a public place, with certain exceptions. Failing to comply with an instruction from an enforcement officer to wear a mask may result in a fine and/or imprisonment of up to six months. Everyone is confined to their homes from 21:00 until 04:00 unless they are performing an essential service as determined by a cabinet minister, have a permit, or are attending to a security or medical emergency. If you have arrived on a late flight and must travel from the airport during the hours of the curfew, you will be allowed to do so provided that you have a valid boarding pass or a copy of the airline ticket. The closing time for the establishments like restaurants is at 20:00 to allow staff and patrons to get home before the start of the curfew.

Public Gatherings
All religious, social, political, and cultural gatherings are banned. Certain small gatherings are permitted within prescribed limits, and as long as all social distancing and health protocols are be observed. Funerals are permitted but are limited to a maximum of 50 attendees (depending on the capacity of the venue) and a maximum duration of two hours. During a funeral, people must wear their masks and adhere to all health and protocols and social distancing measures. Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings remain forbidden.

Places remaining closed
The following places continue to be closed to the public:

Flea markets
Fêtes and bazaars
Night clubs
Taverns, shebeens, and similar establishments
Conferencing, exhibitions, and entertainment facilities
Theatres and cinemas
Museums, libraries, archives, and galleries
Visits to old age homes and care facilities are prohibited

Other premises may be closed if there is a risk of anyone being exposed to Covid-19 at the place in question.

Alcohol and Tobacco
The sale of tobacco, cigarettes and related products like e-cigarettes is allowed, so people may “zol” Minister Dlamini-Zuma!

The sale of alcohol is banned, whether for on-site or off-site consumption. To ease the pressure on South Africa’s strained hospitals, the government has decided to implement an outright ban on alcohol. South African Breweries is fighting the ban in court. Recently published research showed that alcohol bans were extremely effective at reducing the number of unnatural deaths due to trauma injuries in South Africa.

Travel and Public TransportBus and taxi services may not carry more than 70% of the licensed capacity for long-distance travel (200km or more). Public transport may carry 100% of the licensed capacity for any trip not regarded as long-distance travel. A driver, owner or operator of public transport must not allow anyone not wearing a face mask covering their nose and mouth to board their vehicle. Leisure travel into or out of Gauteng is restricted. Travel for work purposes, to deliver goods and services, to attend funerals, and to return home is permitted with the proper forms.

Schools and institutions of higher learning will remain closed for contact classes until 26 July 2021. Residences are allowed to remain open. More details about school closures and reopenings will be communicated by the relevant Ministers.
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