President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday 30 May and confirmed that the country return to lockdown level 2 after COVID-19 cases surged over the past few months, propelling several provinces into their third wave of the deadly virus.
The latest restrictions will come into affect at midnight tonight. Restrictions on gatherings and curfew times have once again been tightened.
His address follows meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), as well as Cabinet over the past few days as a result of a sharp spike in reported COVID-19 cases. These role-players agreed that given the spike in daily case reports, restrictions urgently need to be introduced once again to curb the spread of COVID-19.
What are the restrictions introduced during lockdown level 2?
It’s been over two months since Ramaphosa last convened a “family meeting” to update the public on the status of government’s efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens. He bemoaned a sense of complacency that has been observed, and said that the primary cause of the latest spike in infections is a frivolous attitude towards gatherings. He also said that “pandemic fatigue” has led to people becoming less cautious when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing.
“We have not been as vigilant about the wearing of masks, avoiding crowded places, and have been socialising a lot more. As a result, infections are surging,” said Ramaphosa on Sunday night.
As a result of this, he announced that gatherings have been further restricted, with 100 people permitted convene at indoor spaces, and 250 people allowed to meet up at outdoor spaces. If the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with the mandated social distancing, only 50% of the venue’s capacity may be occupied.
He also said that only 100 people are now allowed to attend funerals. Further clarity on the latest guidelines concerning gatherings will be outlined in the forthcoming government gazette.
Additionally, Ramaphosa confirmed that curfew times during alert level 2 lockdown will be between 23:00 until 4:00. Restaurants, bars, taverns, and health facilities will need to close at 22:00 to allow their staff to return home safely before curfew comes into effect.
NCCC concerned over latest spike in cases
Ramaphosa said that the spike in infections dictated an urgent response from the NCCC. The Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Gauteng have reached the threshold of a third wave of infections, he said.
“After several months of low transmission, the number of transmissions has begun to rise in several parts of the country,” he said. “There is currently an average of 3 745 new daily infections, with cases up by 37% compared to the previous week. The proportion of positive tests has more than doubled over the last month. We are advised by experts that a positivity rate of over 5% is a cause for concern.”
“The NCCC has recommended the implementation of further restrictions. It bases this advise on the sustained increase of new cases over the last 14 days, as well as increased hospital admissions and the proportion of positive tests.”
Ramaphosa said that restrictions are necessary to ensure that health facilities are not overwhelmed. “We must allow as many people to be vaccinated before the third wave reaches its peak,” he said.