Dept. of Health calls for extended alcohol restrictions in South Africa

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The Department of Health will be recommending to the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet that South Africa remain on its current adjusted Alert Level 3 lockdown.

This is according to Minister of Health Joe Phaahla, who was speaking to the media in an online briefing on Friday morning.

Under the current lockdown rules, the sale of alcohol is allowed but restricted.

Liquor sales for off-site consumption are restricted to between 10h00 and 18h00, Monday to Thursday.

On-site consumption of alcohol is permitted according to restaurants’ licence conditions until 20:00 every day.

Duty-free shops in the international departures area of South African airports are allowed to sell alcohol without restrictions.

“We are encouraged by the overall continuous downward trend of the pandemic in the last seven days,” Phaahla said.

He said that South Arica is still far from being able to say that its third wave is receding.

“Our situation remains precarious, and it is no time to lower our guard,” said Phaahla.

While hospital admissions have declined by 4.4%, Phaahla said that this is just a little relief.

“Our hospital facilities are still under tremendous pressure, especially in Gauteng, although the admission numbers have been reducing [in the province]but rising in the Western Cape.”

Phaahla said that South Africa’s hospitals still have enough capacity to handle those who need care in its ordinary wards and its high care and ICU facilities.

He said that although Gauteng has crested its third wave peak, new cases are increasing in other provinces, with the Western Cape currently leading.

“Therefore, as a department of health, we will in no way be recommending to the National Coronavirus Command Council, and to Cabinet, a relaxation of the restrictions at this stage,” he said.

“We will be recommending remaining at level 3.”

Covid-19 new and active cases, by Media Hack

In addition to the restrictions on alcohol sales imposed by the Alert Level 3 lockdown, a curfew remains in effect between 22:00 and 04:00.

Non-essential facilities like restaurants, bars, and fitness centres must close at 21:00 to allow staff to return home before curfew. Nightclubs remain closed.

Public gatherings are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, or to half the capacity of the venue — whichever is lowed.

This includes social gatherings, political events, and religious gatherings.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported yesterday that 14,271 new Covid–19 cases were identified in South Africa, representing a 22.5% positivity rate.

The National Department of Health reported a further 473 Covid–19, bringing total fatalities to 76,247 to date.

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