“We have simply let our guard down,” said pres. Cyril Ramaphosa during a teary-eyed address to the nation last night to announce tougher coronavirus restrictions. The new “adjusted level 3-restrictions” will last until at least Friday, 15 January 2021.
Ramaphosa’s announcement comes as Mzansi became the first country in Africa to pass a million covid-19 cases. He said more than 50 000 new cases have been reported since Christmas Eve. The majority of new cases are emerging in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. Infections are also on the rise in Limpopo.
“Infections are on the rise in part because, as humans, we are social beings and have a need to socialise with one another. We feel the need to visit friends and family, we attend religious services and we go to parties. But this is a time of heightened danger.”
Bheki Cele and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, respectively the ministers of police and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, is expected to brief the nation on the practical implications of adjusted restrictions this morning.
Meanwhile Jahni de Villiers, director of Labour Amplified, answered some questions posed by Food For Mzansi readers.
1. So, are we really, really entering 2021 with a sober mind?
We will be entering with sober bodies. I’m not sure about sober minds! The alcohol ban is understandable given the negative effect that alcohol has on general compliance (with covid-19 regulations) and social distancing, although the effect on the (agricultural and liquor) industries, especially wine farms, is worrying.
Regulations gazetted after the president’s announcement confirmed a total alcohol ban. “The sale, dispensing, and distribution of liquor for off-site consumption and for on-site consumption, is prohibited.” In addition, the consumption of liquor in public places is prohibited and “the tasting and selling of liquor to the public by registered wineries. wine farms. and other similar establishments registered as micro manufacturers, is prohibited.”
2. What are the practical implications for holiday-makers? Does it mean they have to cancel their plans and head back home with immediate effect?
Hurrying everyone home at once will cause additional problems in everyone’s home provinces, as well as problems for establishments having to refund people’s accommodation money. I suspect the reason that travel has not been restricted is exactly because government wanted to avoid congestion if everyone had to rush back home.
3. Is interprovincial travel still allowed?
There is no ban on interprovincial travel. The only thing to be mindful of is the beach, dam, lakes, rivers and park closures, as well as the curfew from 21:00 to 06:00.
4. Can farmers still continue with live auctions?
Auctions may continue with 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, subject to a 1,5 metre distance between people and compulsory mask-wearing, as well as all relevant health protocols.
5. And not wearing face masks is now a criminal offense?
Failing to wear a face mask in public could land you in prison for six months and/or liable to a fine of which the amount is yet to be determined. Noteworthy, Ramaphosa also said, “It is now illegal for people to not report people who aren’t wearing masks.”