South Africa tightens COVID-19 restrictions to curb second wave

JOHANNESBURG (XINHUA) – South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday lockdown measures would be tightened over the festive period in a bid to curb COVID-19 second wave surge.

Ramaphosa declared Garden Route in the Western Cape and Sarah Baartman districts as “hotspots” areas. “We will ensure that there is stricter enforcement of existing alert level 1 restrictions throughout the country during the festive season,” he noted.

Ramaphosa said beaches in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route would be closed from today until January 3 next year. Beaches in Kwazulu-Natal would be closed on public holidays until January.

“One of the greatest challenges we need to confront are the huge crowds that flock to beaches and recreational parks on public holidays,” he said.

Huge crowds have been identified as super-spreaders and steps would be taken to tackle this. Outdoor and indoor events may not be attended by more than 250 and 100 people respectively, according to the restrictions.

“We have undertaken extensive consultations on this issue so that we can find an approach that reduces the risk of large-scale transmission while limiting the negative impact on businesses in coastal areas,” the president said.

Curfew measures would also be implemented from midnight in districts declared “hotspots”. Restaurants would close at 10pm to enforce the curfew between 11pm until 4am across the country.

Volunteers wait to be checked at a vaccine trial facility for AstraZeneca at Soweto’s Chris Sani Baragwanath Hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa. PHOTO: AP