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Tag: Covid-19 Restrictions

‘New alcohol restrictions make no sense’ – SAMA angry with Level 3 laws

When putting the country back into a tougher phase of lockdown, Cyril Ramaphosa is never going to please everyone. However, when you’re decisions are being picked apart by the SA Medical Association, alarm bells start ringing. The president has been chastised for the Level 3 guidance on alcohol restrictions.

ALCOHOL RESTRICTIONS AT LEVEL 3 OF LOCKDOWN

Some feared a complete booze ban was imminent during the family meeting on Tuesday. However, this never came to fruition. Instead, Ramaphosa wheeled out a set of regulations that significantly limits our access to liquor:

  • – Off-site premises – like bottle stores and supermarkets – can only sell alcohol from Monday to Thursday.
  • – They will only be able to put booze on sale from 10:00 – 18:00 on these four days.
  • – Alcohol cannot be sold by stores over the weekend, or on public holidays.
  • – However, bars and restaurants can sell liquor everyday until 21:00
  • – Wine farms, breweries, and distilleries can also sell their produce for people to take home.

LIQUOR LIMITS LABELLED ‘SENSELESS’ BY SAMA

However, what seemed ‘reasonable’ to President Ramaphosa and his colleagues does not check out with SAMA chairperson Dr. Angelique Coetzee. She went public with her disdain on Thursday, saying that the updated alcohol restrictions for Level 3 simply ‘do not make any sense’, and it fails to encourage people to ‘stay at home’.

“We noticed that we are moving to Level 3 lockdown. We think it is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t make sense for us to close a place that sells alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays. You can’t drink at home but you are allowed to drink at pubs until 21:00. For us, none of these alcohol restrictions make sense, we need people at home.”

“We don’t want people in a shopping centre or anywhere else, if we can manage to do that for three to four weeks we can get the numbers down but for now, I don’t see that happening. Again keeping the schools open when most teachers are sick, especially in Gauteng, is not helping. We should have prepared better.”

covid+lockdown

Cabinet considering ‘lighter lockdown restrictions’

Something is definitely brewing in Cabinet: Discussions about lifting the alcohol ban have been well publicised in the past 24 hours or so – but it seems these talks are indicative of something bigger. We understand that several restrictions are now likely to be lifted alongside liquor prohibition – and South Africa could move into Level 2 of lockdown.

The country has been rooted in Level 3 restrictions since the end of December: A soaring infection rate and the spread of an infamous new variant put South Africa on the brink of disaster. But, just five weeks later, everything from new cases to hospitalisations are plummeting fast – and the government is likely to seize upon this opportunity.

Sunday Times has reported that Cabinet is poised to ease Covid-19 restrictions, which WILL see the country move to alert Level 2. That means the following laws would be altered:

  • Curfew hours are up for discussion, as the pressure to ease the nightly shutdown increases.
  • As proved to be a major sticking point this weekend, it’s likely that beaches will reopen in certain areas.
  • Alongside this, the list of ‘hot-spot regions’ is also likely to be revised.
  • And, of course, the alcohol ban is set to run its course and finish ‘at some point in the next week’.
  • As we reported earlier today, several restrictions could now be lifted ‘earlier than first thought‘.

Political analyst, Professor Dirk Kotze, also believes that a march to Level 2 is on the cards. He went one step further and speculated that there would be ‘bigger interventions’ on the horizon for the tourism industry.

“I definitely think there’s going to be loosening of some of these restrictions. There’s lots of discussion about the selling of alcohol. I think the issue about the curfew will be discussed also, it might be changed to later and shorter hours for the curfew.”

“The hotspots will most probably be addressed, the opening of beaches and how to make possible for especially the tourism industry because they were affected by these restrictions, how to be able to kick start that again.”

Dirk Kotze

FF+ claims first lockdown not used adequately

The opportunity created by the initial lockdown period was not adequately used to prepare the health-care system for the second wave of infections, the  Freedom Front Plus said on Monday.

The FF+ said that last nights’ decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa that SA will remain on lockdown level three in the midst of a sharp rise in new Covid-19 cases, proved that the government had overreacted last year when it implemented draconian measures that had caused needless damage to the economy.

“The opportunity created by the initial lockdown period was not adequately used to prepare the health-care system for the second wave of infections.  The field hospitals that were erected were taken down again while knowing full well that a second wave was on its way,” the party said.

It said the country’s health-care services did not use the time it was afforded by the stringent and drawn-out lockdown period — during which many South Africans lost their jobs and income — to get ready. Regarding the latest measures, the FF+ said it was irrational that beaches remained closed as police were spending so much precious time, energy and money on apprehending and prosecuting lone individuals on beaches.

“Meanwhile, there are many areas in the country where health and safety measures are not adhered to at all and where lockdown restrictions are simply ignored. The police must rather focus their efforts on those areas and on combating ordinary crime.”

The FF+ said it was irrational to extend the ban on alcohol.

“The ban is not achieving the desired outcome. It is merely facilitating illegal trade, decreasing state revenue and depriving many people in this industry of a livelihood as jobs are lost.”

It said at most, stringent restrictions should be placed on the sale of alcohol, but an absolute ban was doing more damage than good.

Updated regulations for domestic air travel

South Africans learnt on 28 December that tighter lockdown restrictions would be introduced at midnight to curb the rising number of coronavirus infections in the country. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the return to Level 3, with a few adjustments to the previous Level 3 restrictions.

As a result of the shift to lockdown Level 3, revised regulations for travellers have been issued by the Ministry of Transport. The rules regulating travel within South Africa were released on 29 December at a ministerial briefing.

REVISED REGULATIONS FOR DOMESTIC AIR TRAVEL

  • Scheduled flights will be permitted to take off and land between 08:00 and 20:00.
  • Airports will be allowed to open earlier and later than this to process passengers.
  • Travel to COVID-19 hotspots is discouraged.
  • South Africa’s international borders will remain open.
  • Face masks must be worn on all public transport.
  • No permits are required for inter-provincial travel — as was previously the case under level 3.
  • Passengers who can present genuine boarding passes or passport stamps (relating to international travel) will not be penalised for movements during curfew hours.
  • Alcohol may not be transported unless it is for export or if manufacturers are transporting it for storage or if it is used in industry.

Following the release of the new rules, South Africa’s local airlines have had to make adjustments to their flight schedules, inflight services and onboard catering.  Passengers who are due to fly should take note that several airlines have cancelled or rescheduled flights to comply with the new regulations.

Since no flights may depart before 08:00 and arrive after 20:00, all airlines have had to cancel flights that operate outside the permitted time period. Most other flights will operate as usual. Passengers who are booked to travel on flights between 08:00 and 20:00 will not be affected.

Airlink is adjusting its schedule of early morning and evening departures so that customers can comply with the new curfew with minimal disruption to their travel plans. The adjusted schedule will apply until 15 January.

Schedule changes will generally affect flights that were originally due to depart before 08:00 and arrive after 20:00. Rescheduled flights will depart as soon after 08:00 as possible and where applicable will arrive before 20:00.

Airlink will communicate schedule changes to customers holding tickets for any affected flights. Customers may consult the flight schedule on Airlink’s website. Customers can also change existing reservations online using the “Manage My Booking” function on the site.

Updates will be made through Airlink’s customer care centre from Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 16:30. They may be contacted on (011) 451-7337 or via Airlink’s flight schedule page on its website.

PASSENGERS FLYING WITH FLYSAFAIR

FlySafair will inform affected passengers of any adjustments by email and telephonically. Passengers are also asked to check FlySafair’s website and social media channels for updates. No actions are required from passengers other than to take note of their new flight departure times.

FlaySafair’s customer care centre and airport counters can assist passengers affected by the changes. The customer care centre can be contacted on 087-357-0030.

The airline is easing restrictions for customers who voluntarily decide to cancel their trips. All customers can make penalty-free date changes. Fare differences will be charged if applicable. Customers can also convert existing tickets to a voucher for future use, subject to the airline’s standard R300 fee. This will apply while Level 3 restrictions remain in place.

PASSENGERS FLYING WITH KULULA

Kulula’s flight schedule has been adjusted for travel from 29 December until 15 January. Passengers who will be impacted most are those booked to travel on Kulula’s flights which were scheduled to operate in the early morning and late evening.

Affected customers will be contacted and re-accommodated by the airline. If customers would prefer to be booked on new flights, they must contact Kulula’s contact centre on 0861 KULULA (0861-585-852) for further assistance. All of the airline’s other flights will operate as scheduled.

covid+lockdown

A 22:00 curfew for South Africa and new alcohol restrictions

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has agreed that there should be a 22:00 curfew in Covid-19 hotspot areas across the country.  They also agreed that alcohol sales should be restricted to Monday to Thursday.  Pubs and taverns should also close at 21:00.

The NCCC met on Tuesday when it recommended that the consumption of alcohol be banned in public areas, such as beaches and parks.  Restaurants should be shut by 21:00 in hotspot areas.

Public gatherings in hotspot areas should be limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.  This include religious events.  NCCC also agreed that there should be regionalised restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus in hotspot areas, such as Nelson Mandela Bay and the Garden Route.

The list of Covid-19 hotspot areas is not finalised but the main focus now is on the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.  For the rest of the country it appears that Level 1 lockdown will remain in place.

The biggest risk is at Mandela Bay as the hospitals are full – including the private healthcare facilities.  Another concern is that the country is expecting an influx of people from Gauteng and the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape for the festive season and it is posing a challenge for local authorities.

The NCCC recommendations are being discussed this morning at a meeting of the Presidential Coordinating Council and there might be counter-proposals.  Cabinet is expected to meet to rubber stamp the recommendations before President Cyril Ramaphosa announces the new measures this week.

 

covid+lockdown

New restrictions to fight COVID-19 in South Africa planned

The government is considering new restrictions to fight the resurgence of COVID-19 in hotspots like the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

This is feedback from Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who was speaking to SABC News about the increase in cases over the last few weeks.

Over the last month, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased from an average of 1,548 per week to 2,623 per week.

The main concern is the rapid rise in cases from a handful of hotspots in South Africa – notably in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

Mkhize said these hotspots pose a serious risk to citizens in these areas and the impact of super spreader events to fuel a potential second wave.

To address the established resurgence in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, the government is now considering localized interventions.

The health minister said he is avoiding the term “lockdown”, which is associated with national restrictions ranging between level 1 and level 5.

Instead, he referred to “various restrictions” to protect communities against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mkhize said they can clearly see super spreader events taking place in places like Nelson Mandela Bay.

“It is important to start looking at the size of meetings, whether people are using marks, sanitize, and adhering to social distancing rules,” he said.

Interventions which are considered

Mkhize said interventions are necessary to address the causes behind the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in some areas, which include:

  • A review of the number of people who can attend funerals or meetings.
  • Considering measures to protect people in places where alcohol is used.
  • What restrictions can be implemented to limit the number of alcohol-related trauma cases.
  • Measures to encourage people to wear masks, wash their hands, and sanitize in public places.

He said they have identified the main risk areas, and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will now consider the best support mechanisms to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We need to send a signal to the communities that we are there to help to support particular behaviours,” he said.

“Certain restrictions will have to be brought in. What exactly those restrictions will look like will depend on the command council.”

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Tame Communications (known as tame TIMES) was established in 2009. This long-established popular community title includes the key shopping centres:  Alberton City, Mal...

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