Yesterday, South African sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa gazetted updated lockdown restrictions around gatherings. The new regulations take immediate effect and will further limit indoor and outdoor gatherings.
According to reports, the latest update signals an even tougher lockdown on the cards with health experts warning that government could introduce further lockdown restrictions as the country sees a spike in COVID cases, officially entering into a third wave. The latest gazette also includes earlier cut-off times for restaurants, cinemas, sports and other events.
Important Updated Lockdown Restrictions to Note:
- Cinemas and theatres are limited to 50 persons or less for indoor venues, and 100 people or less for outdoor venues.
- Museums, galleries and libraries are limited to 50 people or less for indoor venues, and 100 people or less for outdoor venues.
- Gyms and fitness centres are limited to 50 people or less for indoor venues, and 100 people or less for outdoor venues.
- Social and political gatherings are limited to 100 persons or less for indoor venues and 250 persons or less for outdoor venues.
- All of the above establishments must be closed by 22h00
- And finally, if the above venues cannot accommodate social distancing of more than 1.5 metres between people, then no more than 50% of the capacity may be used
The updated lockdown restrictions also include specific regulations around gyms and fitness centres, including:
- Social distance of 1.5 metres in areas of the gym where there is low/medium intensity exercise, and at least two metres distance in areas of high-intensity exercise
- Everyone must wear a face mask at all times
- If a person is undertaking vigorous activity, they do not have to wear a mask, provided they are at least two metres away from other patrons
- Studio classes should be reduced to accommodate the two-metre rule
- Markers should be placed on the floor indicating the 1.5 metre and two metre distance requirements
Possible Lockdown Level 3
Speaking to News24, senior members of the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) said that a move to an adjusted level 3 lockdown should be considered. A considerable shortage of hospital beds in some provinces is of particular concern, with Gauteng expected to reach maximum capacity within the next few weeks.
Additional restrictions being called for and mooted include:
- Banning unnecessary inter-provincial travel
- Interventions around schools and holidays
- Stronger enforcement of restrictions for restaurants
- Possible restrictions around the sale of alcohol
Earlier this month, The South African Medical Association (SAMA), a not-for-profit group, which represents the interests of medical doctors in South Africa, also urged the government to consider tougher lockdown restrictions to combat “lockdown fatigue” as the third wave sets in.
Speaking to TimesLIVE, Dr Angelique Coetzee of SAMA said that it’s already getting difficult to secure hospital beds in parts of the country due to an increase in cases. The association is also concerned about the slow roll-out of vaccinations, which will undoubtedly have an impact on the severity of the third wave.
“The plan was to reach five million people in phase 2 of the rollout, but this is being hampered by the slow rollout and poor adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as possible poor ventilation that might be experienced in clinics administering the vaccine,” she said.
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“We cannot be fooled into a false sense of security around Covid-19. It is still out there, and still a threat to many people,” Dr Coetzee said. “We simply have to ensure we do everything we can to curb the spread of the disease, and we have to understand that each and every person has a role to play.”
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