Covid-19

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Dlamini Zuma defends curfew aimed at preventing drinking ‘chaos’

Dlamini Zuma defends curfew aimed at preventing drinking ‘chaos’
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma leads the media briefing on the regulations relating to the COVID-19 Level 1 restrictions, 18 September 2020 Photo:Elmond Njiyane/GCIS

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has defended keeping a curfew under Level 1 of the lockdown, explaining it’s aimed at limiting the time young people spend drinking at restaurants and bars.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says while the rate of Covid-19 infections has decreased, regulations are still necessary to avoid a resurgence in positive cases.

She was speaking during a press conference on Friday afternoon to unpack the Level 1 lockdown regulations, which will come into effect from Monday 21 September.

Dlamini Zuma said it was necessary to keep the curfew, which will apply from midnight to 4am, shortened from 10pm to 4am under Level 2, to limit the time people spend at drinking establishments.

“We still have 2,000 or more cases a day and we know that if people have been sitting in a tavern, or even in a restaurant, you don’t want people to sit there for hours and hours and hours. People, when they start drinking, getting drunk, they forget the mask, forget social distancing. It becomes chaos,” she said.

Dlamini Zuma said it’s often young people who drink into the early hours of the morning and they go home to their family, they risk spreading Covid-19 to the elderly, who are more vulnerable.

“I think if we understand that we are not out of the woods, if we understand that the pandemic is still on, the storm is still on, we are just away from the eye of the storm but the storm is still on, then it would be easier to understand that we can’t just open the whole night for people to drink and sit together for hours and hours,” said the minister.

The Level 1 regulations, which were Gazetted on Friday, allow for public gatherings to resume with a maximum of 250 people at indoor events and 500 people at outdoor events.

However, people must adhere to health guidelines and remain 1.5 metres apart at both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Smaller venues, where that distance cannot be maintained, are only allowed to be filled to a maximum capacity of 50%.

A similar rule applies to funerals: A maximum of 100 people, up from 50 during Level 2, can attend a funeral but small venues that cannot ensure a distance of 1.5 metres between attendees must limit attendance to 50% of capacity.

The new regulations allow gatherings at sports grounds, beaches, public parks and museums. Spectators are still banned from amateur and professional sporting events. Nightclubs and initiation practices remain prohibited.

Level 1 allows international travel to resume from 1 October but Dlamini Zuma did not provide details on exactly how it would work, instead reiterating President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments when he announced the shift in policy this week.

She said other ministers would soon announce a list of high-risk countries from where travellers would not be permitted to come to South Africa.

On arrival, international travellers will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours of departure. Those who do not have such a test or show coronavirus symptoms will be required to quarantine, at their own cost.

It remains unclear how the quarantine of travellers will work, whether they’ll be able to quarantine at venues of their choosing, or at sites approved by the state, and how they will be monitored.

Dlamini Zuma said the basic and higher education ministers would soon explain any changes in regulations for the education system under Level 1.

“The reason we’re opening is not because we’re out of the woods,” she stressed.

“If you recall, we started opening the levels even as numbers were going up because we were forced by our unique situation where there is lots of poverty, unemployment and hunger and so we had to start opening so people can earn a living whilst we try and save lives.

“It’s not because the coronavirus is over. It’s not.” DM

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