CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #90

Court rules preschools can open, Gauteng rules out return to hard lockdown, and new regulations for cinemas and theatres

By Christi Nortier 7 July 2020

A child receives food from the Masiphumelele Creative Hub feeding scheme run by Yandiswa Mazwana in Masiphumelele, Cape Town. (Photo: EPA-EF E/ Nic Bothma)

On Monday, a high court ruled that all independent preschools and early childhood development centres can reopen under lockdown Level 3 if they meet health and safety requirements. Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape Education Department has delayed the return of Grades R, 6 and 11. Gauteng officials have ruled out a hard lockdown for the province, but are considering stricter measures. New regulations on the reopening of theatres, cinemas and libraries were gazetted.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 6 July at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Free State and Eastern Cape did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

All private preschools and early childhood development centres can reopen immediately under lockdown Level 3 if they can safely do so, ruled the Gauteng High Court on Monday. It declared the decision by the Department of Social Development to keep the schools closed under Level 3 unlawful and unconstitutional. Judge Hans Fabricius slammed Social Development Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga for providing no reasons for refusing to open these centres.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape Education Department has delayed the return of Grade R, 6 and 11 pupils until 20 July because of the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. Some schools were granted permission to reopen. Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Mpumalanga will welcome back these grades on 13 July.

A return to a hard lockdown in Gauteng “cannot be ruled out”, says Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. However, Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku said earlier on Monday that the province is still considering applying stricter restrictions rather than a Level 4 or 5 lockdown. The province’s head of communications, Thabo Masebe, reiterated this and said the province would ask national government to enforce stricter measures and not Level 4 or 5.

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has gazetted new rules for the reopening of cinemas, libraries, archives, museums, galleries and theatres. Library services are limited to borrowing and returning library material. Cinemas and theatres can allow in 50 people, excluding staff, who must be provided with hand sanitiser. Patrons have to wear cloth masks at all times, besides when eating or drinking. Queuing space needs to allow for 1.5m between customers. In addition, contact sport can resume – but training only.

The five people accused of defrauding the Unemployment Insurance Fund Covid-19 Relief Fund of more than R5.6-million were granted bail in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on Monday. The money was meant for 1,400 UIF beneficiaries. They have been charged with fraud, theft and money laundering after being arrested by the Hawks over the weekend. The case has been postponed to September. 

Nearly 3,000 mineworkers have tested positive for Covid-19, and 18 have died since mines restarted production in May, according to the Mineral Council. According to its data, there are 1,643 cases on the North West platinum belt. About 290,535 miners have been screened and 21,386 have been tested.

There are a number of companies in South Africa offering products to “deep clean” an area for Covid-19. However, an investigation by GroundUp has found that a “deep clean” is unnecessary as normal cleaning of surfaces using standard household products is sufficient. They looked into the products sold by NanoWorks and fact-checked their claims. The conclusion: it’s plausible their products destroy Covid-19, but so will any household cleaning product. DM

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Community-led report pinpoints where Gauteng primary healthcare facilities fail people living with HIV

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