The National Coronavirus Command Council will be on standby this festive season to closely monitor and assess the adherence on covid-19 safety protocols, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I have directed that all members of the National Coronavirus Command Council and key personnel should be on standby to ensure constant monitoring and assessment of the situation countrywide.
“Should the situation deteriorate, further action will be taken to protect our people.
“The third area of focus over this period is to prevent super-spreader events and reduce the burden on health care services due to irresponsible alcohol consumption,” he said.
The President revealed this on Monday evening during his nation address on progress in the national effort to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Further measures to be implemented
According to the President, the hours of the curfew will be longer, starting at 11pm and ending at 4am.
He said non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, will have to close at 10pm so that staff and patrons can get home before the enforcement of the curfew.
“The curfew is meant to prevent gatherings that go on late into the night, while enabling restaurants, bars and taverns to continue to operate and earn an income.
“We should all remember that the hours of curfew also apply to Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This means that we will all need to make changes to the way in which we celebrate these occasions.
“The sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday,” he said.
However, registered wineries and wine farms may continue to offer tastings and wine sales to the public for off-site consumption over weekends.
President Ramaphosa said this exception is being made due to the vital contribution of these establishments to the tourism sector in several parts of the country.
“Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden. We will not allow large numbers of people congregating in any one place without proper controls or protocols in place.
“These festive season restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the pandemic across the country,” he said.
The President further explained that the national lockdown imposed at the beginning of the epidemic was designed to delay the spread of the virus to adequately prepare the health system to respond to the rise of infections.
“At that time, we were not ready to cope with a sudden increase of cases and hospital admissions. A full lockdown was necessary to delay the epidemic but would not serve the same purpose now,” he said.
The President said that as doctors, nurses and frontline workers are working tirelessly to protect the nation, everyone must work tirelessly to protect them.
To date, he said over 38,000 health workers in the public sector have tested positive for coronavirus. Of these, nearly 5,000 were admitted to hospital.
“Sadly, 391 health workers in the public sector have passed away.
“As a nation, we owe so much to these brave and dedicated people and to their families, for without them, we would not have come this far.
“As we confront the second wave of infections, we must do everything we can to support and protect our health workers,” he said.