Tag: Lockdown

Covid-19: Melbourne, Australia is under new virus lockdown

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced a six-week lockdown would begin Wednesday, warning “we can’t pretend” the virus crisis is over.  Five million Melbourne residents will be in lockdown for the second time.

It is the first such spike in Australia since the virus was believed to have been suppressed countrywide in April, and is a brutal reminder that risks remain even as life returns to normal.

191 new cases were detected in 24 hours in Melbourne.  Andrews said that there were now too many cases to trace properly, so restrictions were needed.

“These are unsustainably high numbers,” he said.

“No-one wanted to be in this position. I know there will be enormous amounts of damage that will be done because of this. It will be very challenging.”

Residents will be restricted to their homes except for work, exercise, medical care or to buy essentials.

Most students will return to remote learning while restaurants and cafes will be limited to serving takeaway food.

Experts have warned that people everywhere will have to get used to the “new normal” of on-and-off restrictions as new clusters emerge and subside.

But there is growing concern that most of Melbourne’s new cases are not directly linked to residents returning from overseas.

“The situation we are in is more serious than late March because we have community transmission, which is much harder to track than infection in return travelers,” said Raina MacIntyre, a biosecurity expert at the University of New South Wales.

“People all over Australia must accept the gravity of the situation and play their part.”

Although the lockdown covers the Melbourne metropolitan area, the entire state of Victoria will effectively be sealed off from the rest of the country from overnight Tuesday, as state borders are closed.

An AFP reporter in the border town of Albury said that hours before the closures were expected to start, residents were still trying to secure permits allowing them to cross for work or essential business.

Police and the military say they will patrol dozens of border crossings and use drones and other aircraft to check the vast frontier with other states, where the coronavirus has been contained.

Health officials last week effectively shut off about 300,000 Melbourne residents from the rest of the city until the end of July, but that has now been extended beyond those neighbourhoods.

Around 3,000 people in the city were also locked down in their homes on Saturday in Australia’s strictest coronavirus response to date after a cluster emerged in a high-rise public housing estate.

So far, 69 cases have been recorded across the nine densely populated towers and there are concerns the virus could spread widely, with one health official likening the crowded conditions inside to “vertical cruise ships”.

Cruise ships emerged as early coronavirus hotspots, with passengers and crew often packed in small cabins and at high risk of infection.

Australia has recorded almost 9,000 cases of COVID-19 and 106 deaths from the virus.

Almost all new cases are being detected in Melbourne, while other regions are enjoying relaxed restrictions after largely curbing the virus’s spread.

LOCKDOWN: We did not request a hard lockdown, says provincial government

The Gauteng government said it did not ask the national government to allow it to introduce an “intermittent” hard lockdown in the province, but instead called for tougher enforcement of the current regulations.

“We are not calling for a return of a hard lockdown. We fully understand and support the current risk adjusted strategy which is being implemented by the national government and the president,” provincial spokesperson Thabo Masebe told eNCA on Monday morning.

We are simply saying as the numbers continue to rise, let us look at the behaviour of people and say if some factors leading to the high increase could be due to non-adherence to the regulations, then we have to enforce the regulations.”

Masebe said the province was “prepared and ready” to deal with the surge in Covid-19 numbers.

The health system is ready and we have done all we needed to do. We continue to attend to all areas in the health system, including adding hospital beds,” he said.

It was believed a hard lockdown and closure of economic activity in intervals was called for by health MEC Bandile Masuku before attending a provincial cabinet meeting on Saturday.

Masuku told the Sunday Times the province needed the reinstatement of restrictions seen in the early days of the nationwide lockdown to arrest the rampant spread of the coronavirus, which could overwhelm the system and compromise its ability to save lives.

Masebe said Masuku did not call for a level 4 or level 5 lockdown, but said the executive council met on Saturday to discuss the implementation and enforcement of the current regulations.

Masebe said the province has seen a lot of gatherings, marches and parties which attributed to the surge in numbers. 

He said at the meeting it was decided police officers should continue to work with soldiers to ensure citizens adhere to the regulations.

Gauteng has not requested the national government to place the province under level 4 or level 5. Let’s enforce the law and see people adhere to the regulations,” he said.

Source: TimesLive

 

Covid-19: South Africa’s strange lockdown strategy

Other countries implemented a lockdown when cases started to rise and waited for the number of COVID-19 cases to go down before they ease their lockdown restrictions.

South Africa is going in the opposite direction and is easing lockdown restrictions as the spread of the virus is increasing.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairperson of the Health Minister’s COVID-19 advisory group, said this places South Africa in a unique position.

Instead of increasing restrictions during the growth phase of the virus to reduce its spread – like in other countries – South Africa is allowing more movement and larger congregations of people.

This fuel the spread of the virus across the country as the number of COVID-19 infections is nowhere close to reaching its peak.

Many people criticised this strategy, saying instead of flatting the infection curve the government has only flattened the economy.

South Africa overtook China in the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases two weeks ago, and since then, the growth rate has continued to increase.

South Africa versus China

To illustrate South Africa’s unique lockdown strategy, it is educational to compare it to China’s lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei.

China

  • When the virus started to spread in Wuhan, China imposed severe transport restrictions in the region on 23 January.
  • Three weeks later, when the growth was reaching peak levels, China imposed a strict lockdown by shutting down all non-essential companies and manufacturing plants.
  • A week later, it shut down all schools in the region as a further measure to curb the spread of the virus.
  • The travel and other restrictions remained in place until the number of active cases flatlined.
  • It eased the two-month lockdown on 22 March and waited for nearly three more weeks before allowing all transportation to resume.

South Africa 

  • In South Africa, a national state of disaster was declared on 15 March, and on 18 March schools were closed.
  • Two weeks later, the country went into a strict national lockdown where the government shut down all non-essential companies.
  • Because of the lockdown, the number of new daily cases remained low but the economy started to suffer, which forced the government to ease the restrictions on 1 May.
  • The daily cases started to increase in May, but despite this growth, the restrictions were further eased on 1 June, with schools reopening, religious gatherings being allowed, and domestic travel opened for business purposes.

South Africa has now reached a rapid COVID-19 growth phase, and the government has yet again eased restrictions on public gatherings, sit-down restaurants, and business events.

Source: My Broadband

Photo Credit: My Broadband 

 

 

 

 

MOTORISTS: Increases in fuel prices from midnight

Customers must brace for a petrol price surge at the pumps on Tuesday night.

From midnight, 93 octane petrol will now cost R1,63 more per litre while 95 octane will go up by R1,72.

Those using paraffin will have to cough up R2,14 more per litre.

Read-MOTORISTS: Shocking Petrol Price Increase

https://bit.ly/3eAGi93

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Coat_of_arms_of_South_Africa-5c33a88346e0fb00013b521c Coat_of_arms_of_South_Africa-5c33a88346e0fb00013b521c

LOCKDOWN NEWS: Gauteng is looking at the introduction of an “intermittent lockdown”

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says that the province is preparing for the worst of the coronavirus and that it hopes to be ready for a peak in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

Speaking in an interview with 702 on Monday (29 June), Masuku said that the provincial government is most concerned about shopping malls as well as central business districts.

This is because of higher movement in these areas which give rise to a risk of higher infection, he said.

He added that the government was concerned about the deliberate breach of lockdown regulations, not only by the taxi industry but also by ordinary citizens.

Masuku said that the province may also look an introducing a stricter lockdown.

He said that the provincial government was specifically looking at the introduction of an ‘intermittent lockdown’ which has been used in other countries.

“(Under an intermittent lockdown) there will be a period of time where (society) will be open and there will be a period of time where there will be a lockdown to contain the infection.”

“It has helped in other countries and the literature has shown that it could be one of the options. It is matter that it is under discussion and we are actually considering it going forward.

“If we have the healthcare sector collapse in Gauteng, it generally means that the whole care system in the country has collapsed. So we have to do almost everything to protect and save lives going forward”.

He added that in coming days, Gauteng will emerge as the province with the highest Covid-19 numbers.  

Mkhize said that the factors contributing to this trend are:

  • Inward migration;
  • The large population (especially in metros like Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane);
  • Increased congregating which spurs cluster outbreaks;
  • The level to which people are able to adapt to new behaviours such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.

“When the national lockdown was eased to level three, there was a large inward movement of people as economic activities resumed,” he said.

 

Source: BusinessTech

level 3

SA LOCKDOWN: Updated Level 3 Lockdown Regulations.

The government has made a number of changes to South Africa’s level 3 lockdown regulations.

Sit-down restaurants

  • Restaurants are required to conduct a screening questionnaire on guests. Restaurants may refuse admission if they deem a guest is a safety risk;
  • No person may enter the premises without a cloth mask or any homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Masks must be worn at all times except where eating and drinking;
  • All guests must sanitise before entering the premises;
  • There must be a distance of at least 1.5 metres between the customer and the point-of-sale serving counter. The same distance will also apply to queuing customers and between queues at different till points;
  • Customers should also be seated 1.5 metres apart;
  • Restaurants should consider a reservation system where possible to manage demand and ensure capacity limits;
  • No self-service buffets are allowed;
  • Menus must be replaced with non-touch options or sanitised after each use;
  • Tables must be sanitised before and after each guest;
  • Where possible and while taking orders, waiting staff should stand at least a metre from the table.

Casinos

  • The number of persons entering a casino shall not be more than 50% based on the available floor space of the gambling floor;
  • Casinos shall ensure compliance with the requirement relating to physical distancing, which is at least 1.5 metres;
  • Casinos are required to keep a daily record of the full details of all employees, delivery agents and customers;
  • Casinos are required to conduct a screening questionnaire for every guest. After screening, where necessary, they may isolate a person in a facility designated for isolation within their premises;
  • No person shall be allowed into premises if that person is not wearing a cloth mask or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Guests must wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking;
  • Frequently sanitise guests during their stay in the premises or provide guests with sanitisers for frequent use;
  • Maintain at least a distance of one and a half meters between open machines;
  • Sanitise all machine and other surfaces touched after every use, or provide guests with sanitisers to sanitise the surface that they will occupy and touch.

Conference and meetings

  • The number of persons entering a conference and meeting venue shall not be more than 50 people;
  • Conference and meetings shall ensure compliance with the requirement relating to physical distancing, which is at least one and a half meters;
  • These venues must keep a daily record of the full details of all employees, delivery agents and attendees;
  • Conduct a screening questionnaire for every delegate in the format of the form issues with published guidelines;
  • Set up screening stations before or after entrances, at the front of queues to facilitate the screening of delegates at each and every entry;
  • After screening, where necessary, isolate a person in a facility within their premises designated for isolation;
  • No person shall be allowed onto a premises, if that person is not wearing a cloth mask or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Delegates must wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking;
  • Sanitise delegates before entering into the premises;
  • Frequently sanitise guests during their stay in the premises or provide guests with sanitisers for frequent use;
  • Only individual water and individual mints condiments will be provided. The use of containers or bowls is prohibited;
  • Sanitise microphone and podium after use by every person;
  • Designate a seat for each delegate and not allow a delegate to change the seat.

Resumption of sports

  • Cricket SA;
  • South African Anglers and Casting Confederation;
  • SA Gymnastics Federation;
  • Tennis SA;
  • SA National Climbing Federation;
  • Canoeing SA;
  • Swimming SA.

Tracking and tracing

As part of her directive on Friday, Dlamini-Zuma introduced a number of changes to government’s coronavirus tracking and tracing capabilities. These include:

  • The use of ‘geospatial hotspot mapping’ for tracking and tracing purposes;
  • The Department of Health can develop and implement electronic systems or applications to be used on mobile devices or computers in order to collect, on a voluntary basis, information from members of the public for inclusion in the Covid-19 database;
  • To obtain the necessary consent from the user of the mobile device or computer, the terms and conditions of the electronic system or application must explain and request the user’s express consent on a number of issues, including which information will be collected and how it will be stored.

Exercise

Dlamini-Zuma also clarified the issue of exercising in groups in her directive.

The rules have been updated to allow for exercise between the hours of 06h00 to 18h00, provided that the exercise is not done in organised groups of more than four people, and adheres to health protocols and social distancing measures.

Continued restrictions

  • Gyms and fitness centres remain closed;
  • Sports grounds and fields and swimming pools remain closed, except for training of professional athletes and non -contact sports matches as referred to in regulation and contact sports for training only;
  • Fêtes and bazaars remain closed;
  • Night clubs remain closed;
  • Accommodation establishments not formally accredited and licensed, such as private homes for paid leisure accommodation (ie, Airbnb) remain closed;
  • Conference facilities remain closed, except for business use;
  • Any on-consumption premises, including bars, taverns, shebeens and similar establishments remain closed;
  • Beaches and public parks remain closed.

 

Source: BusinessTech

TRANSPORT NEWS: Mbalula pleads with the taxi industry to not break the law.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula pleaded with the taxi industry to reconsider its announcement that taxis would operate at full capacity from Monday.

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) announced earlier on Sunday afternoon that taxis would run at 100% capacity, long-distance taxis would resume operations and it also rejected the government’s offer of R1.315bn in Covid-19 relief.

Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch made the announcement after Mbalula postponed a meeting with the taxi council.

But Mbalula on Sunday evening said his feedback meetings had to be rescheduled “due to unforeseen circumstances”.

“It is rather unfortunate and regrettable that the taxi industry leadership has elected to violate the law and forcefully load taxis at 100% capacity and undertake interprovincial operations without the requisite permits, rather than await a decision on the matters they have tabled,” said Mbalula.

“I appeal to the leadership structures of the industry to reconsider their decision to incite lawlessness and place their drivers and passengers on a collision course with law enforcement authorities.”

“While we have expressed support for a review of loading capacity to 100%, until the current directions have been revised, the legal loading capacity is 70% and enforceable by law enforcement authorities.”

He condemned any call encouraging taxi operators to violate the law.

“We remain committed to taking forward our engagements and encourage the industry to ensure that any form of protest they embark upon, is within the parameters of the law,” said Mbalula.

Source: TimesLive

Photo Credit: ewn

LOCKDOWN NEWS: New lockdown rules for Restaurants.

In a press briefing on Friday evening (26 June), Kubayi-Ngubane said that government has developed clear rules for both delivery and sit-down restaurants according to BusinessTech.

The full directive,containing all of the required rules, will be gazetted on Monday (29 June).

The new rules will also apply from Monday, meaning that restaurants will officially be able to open their doors then.

Delivery and general rules

All restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops must comply with the following directions:

  • Records are to be kept daily for all employees, delivery agents and patrons;
  • Each employee and delivery person must be screened on arrival and departure for shifts;
  • Workplace delivery containers must be regularly sanitised;
  • All employees should be provided with masks and hand sanitiser;
  • Employees and delivery drivers should sanitise before and after all card payments;
  • Employees and delivery drivers should maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres at all times;
  • Only one employee should occupy scullery areas and use handwash basins at a time;
  • Employees should stay in their clearly defined spaces as far as possible. this includes using clear pathways and avoiding contact with each other where possible;
  • Delivery order pick-up areas should be clearly demarcated and separate from where the food is being prepared.

 

Sit-down restaurants

  • Restaurants are required to conduct a screening questionnaire on guests. Restaurants may refuse admission if they deem a guest is a safety risk;
  • No person may enter the premises without a cloth mask or any homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Masks must be worn at all times except where eating and drinking;
  • All guests must sanitise before entering the premises;
  • There must be distance of at least 1.5 metres between the customer and the point-of-sale serving counter. The same distance will also apply to queuing customers and between queues at different till points;
  • Customers should also be seated 1.5 metres apart;
  • Restaurants should consider a reservation system where possible to manage demand and ensure capacity limits.

Food services

  • No self-service buffets are allowed;
  • Menus must be replaced with non-touch options or sanitised after each use;
  • Tables must be sanitised before and after each guest;
  • Where possible and while taking orders, waiting staff should stand at least a metre from the table.

The current rule for all ‘gatherings’ is 50 people, which applies to restaurants at any given time, while alcohol for onsite consumption, is still forbidden, under the current directive.

Source: BusinessTech

 

BREAKING NEWS: High Court – Cigarette sales stay banned!

The Gauteng High Court has dismissed the case brought by fair trade association Fita to try and lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes in the country.

The group confirmed the ruling on Friday (26 June), adding that it would issue a public statement on the matter at a later time, according to Business Tech.

Fita had argued that the ban on the sale of cigarettes was detrimental to both industry and individuals, and that it was premised on irrational reasoning.

Government, meanwhile, argued that the ban was in place to protect the health of South African citizens and would encourage addicts to quit.

While government argued that smoking could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases and even death, Fita said that this is not an issue that is limited to cigarettes.

According to the courts, however, Fita had failed to convince the judges of its case.

Specifically, the court said that Fita’s argument that tobacco products be considered ‘necessary’ due to the negative effects the ban was having on those dependent on the substance, was without merit.

The court also noted that Fita bringing the case ignored the context in which the ban was put in place – an unprecedented global pandemic, which required swift response from government.

The case was dismissed with costs.

Source: Business Tech

department-of-education

EDUCATION NEWS: ‘We will trim down the curriculum’ – Angie Motshekga

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has given a progress report on reopening schools. She was talking during a virtual sitting of  education MECs according to TimesLive.

The second phased return of pupils includes grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6 and 10 on July 6.

Here are seven telling quotes from the minister.

  1. Shortage of resources

“We are working with the National Treasury to see if we can find more resources because as a department we have been completely overburdened and overstretched with resources but we are also hopeful after the discussions we had.”

  1. Teachers with underlying conditions

“We have quite a number of teachers who have declared that they have comorbidities. The rules state that it is a doctor who can declare if you can stay [at home]. You can’t decide [to stay home] because you are 60 and have diabetes. If it is controlled, therefore you must go to work.”

  1. Pupils with comorbidities

“Different schools and provinces are putting measures in place to make sure that they are not left behind.”

  1. Matric examinations

“We don’t want a class of 2020 whose matric is doubtful. They would rather write later because we want the matric certificate to have the same credibility and currency than any other certificate. We are not compromising and we have moved the exams from starting in October to November. They will start a month later.”

  1. Curriculum overlap

“We have also made sure that we trim down the curriculum. We will link the 2020 year with 2021 so that some of the topics will be moved to the next year so [learners] don’t miss out on anything that they are supposed to have learnt. We will make sure that we salvage what we can.”

  1. Covid-19 cases in schools

“The people who tested positive in our schools are people we have screened at the entrance. Through the screening process they would have been identified with all the symptoms and sent to the department of health.”

  1. Catch-up plan

“If we don’t deal with the loss of time for 2020, we may have longer-term problems in terms of curriculum deficits. The grade 12 catch-up plan that I have received from provinces is intensive. There are camps and Saturday and Sunday classes. The long-term problem will hit us three years down the line. We will have children who were supposed to have had 12 years of schooling coming out with the system with 11 years.”

 

Source: TimesLive

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