President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced the ban on the sale of alcohol and the obligation to wear masks throughout South Africa. These measures aim to slow the progression of Covid-19 in a country that has just exceeded one million cases of contamination.
While South Africa has just exceeded one million positive cases for Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced, Monday, December 28, that the sale of alcohol was now prohibited from midnight and that the mask became mandatory in all the countries.
The curfew is also widened, starting at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., until 6 a.m. “No one will be allowed to be outside their home, except health personnel” during these night hours, Cyril Ramaphosa said during a solemn televised speech.
However, bars and restaurants will not close completely in order to preserve as much as possible an economy already very weakened during the first wave. But these businesses will live shortened evenings, putting customers and staff outside at 8 p.m., in order to respect the new curfew schedule.
The speed of contamination is “particularly alarming”, insisted the president, denouncing “an extreme lack of vigilance among us” during the holidays. “We have let our guard down, we are now paying the price,” he said, listing the end of the school year celebrations, it’s summer in South Africa, family reunion for Christmas, concerts and religious services, all events qualified as “super-contaminants”.
For 14 days, all large gatherings, inside and out, are prohibited, except for funerals limited to 50 people and some exceptions which will be detailed later, he said.
The ban on the sale of alcohol, at least until January 15, aims to reduce the number of hospital admissions linked to road accidents or violence, especially family violence, generated by an excess of consumption.
Alcohol generates “risky behavior” and drives up the number of admissions to emergency services, which have better things to do at the moment, insisted President Ramaphosa. “Every relaxation in our restrictions” on alcohol has resulted in “an increased number” of hospitalizations.
“Gunshot wounds, road accidents and other accidents add unnecessary pressure” on nursing staff and infrastructure close to their limit in terms of reception and overwhelmed in several provinces.
“The caregivers are exhausted”. More than 41,000 of them have been infected since the start of the pandemic in March, he said.
14 000 new positive cases per day
The country has “not yet reached the peak” of this second wave with still three record days last week with more than 14,000 new positive cases per day. But the caregivers “are not far from breaking down, they risk losing their lives because of our actions and our inability to take our responsibilities”.
“Unless we act now, and decisively, the new contaminations will greatly exceed” those of the first wave of the pandemic, warned Cyril Ramaphosa.
By March, the sale of alcohol had been banned, then regulated to varying degrees. Until the president’s announcement, it was possible to buy alcohol only between Monday and Thursday during the day.
South Africa on Sunday became the first African country to exceed one million infections. While a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus is responsible for a large majority of new cases, the country of nearly 59 million people has officially recorded 1,004,413 positive cases and 26,735 deaths.