South Africa’s president introduced new coronavirus restrictions late Tuesday to help the country curb the spread of the virus and save lives as it battles a third wave of the pandemic.
In a televised address to the nation, Cyril Ramaphosa said that due to a rising number of infections, his cabinet has decided to move the country to Alert Level 3, which involves harsher lockdown restrictions including a nightly curfew that will start at 10 p.m. and end at 4 a.m.
Previously, under Alert Level 2, the curfew started at 11 p.m. and ended at 4 a.m.
Ramaphosa said the average number of daily new infections has more than doubled in the past two weeks from around 3,700 to 7,500.
“The average number of people who die from COVID-19 each day has increased by 48% from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that due to the increase in infections, all gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. These include religious services, political events and social gatherings.
The South African leader further announced that attendance at funerals and cremations may also not exceed 50 people and all social distancing and health protocols must be observed.
Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings are not allowed, he said, adding the sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will only be permitted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.
The president also said that consumption of alcohol in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden.
He said it remains mandatory for everyone to wear a face mask that always covers their nose and mouth at all times when in public spaces.
“It is a criminal offence not to do so,” he warned.
South Africa recorded 8,436 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the confirmed number of cases in the country to 1.76 million.
A further 208 COVID-19 related deaths were also reported in the same period, taking the total number of fatalities to 58,087, according to figures released by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
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