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SA to move back to level 3 from midnight - Ramaphosa

The president said that decision was made on the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council and consultations with provinces and metro mayors.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on Monday, 14 December 2020. Picture: @GovernmentZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa will move back to level 3 with immediate effect from midnight, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.

The president said that decision was made on the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council and consultations with provinces and metro mayors.

He said that several of the level 3 regulations were being strengthened to further limit the potential transmission of the virus while doing everything possible to keep the economy open.

Ramaphosa said that the restrictions that applied to level 3 had been adjusted based on the lessons learned to date and would be in place until 15 January 2021. The president said that the measures would be reviewed at this time on the basis of the state of the pandemic in the country.

Under the new regulations, the wearing of a cloth mask in public is now mandatory. If a person is caught not wearing a mask, on conviction they are liable for a fine or be imprisoned for up to six months or be fined and imprisoned.

Curfew has also been extended and will now be in force from 9pm to 6am. Only permitted persons will be allowed to be outside their places of residence during the curfew. Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, must now close at 8pm.

With the exception of funerals, restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited. A maximum of 50 people are allowed to attend funerals and there must be social distancing.

The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol will not be permitted, while the ban on drinking alcohol in public spaces like parks and beaches remains.

The distribution and transportation of alcohol will be prohibited with exceptions, which will be explained by the minister.

Ramaphosa said that there were four main reasons for the move back to level 3 - government wanting to minimise the risk of super-spreader events; wanting to decrease unsafe interactions between people; to increase the implementation of the five key prevention measures - social distancing, wearing of masks, hand hygiene, symptom checking and testing - and decreasing the burden on healthcare services so that resources could be directed to meet the needs of COVID-19 and other patients.

In addition to the restrictions, 22 districts have been declared as COVID-19 hot spots. The president said that these districts would be subject to additional restrictions until there was a clear and sustained drop in infections.

The 22 districts are as follows:

Eastern Cape: Chris Hani District, Buffalo City, Amathole District, Alfred Nzo District and the OR Tambo District. These are in addition to Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Sarah Baartman District, which have already been declared hotspots.

KwaZulu-Natal: eThekwini, Umgungundlovu District, Ugu District, Harry Gwala District, King Cetshwayo District and Ilembe District.

Gauteng: West Rand District, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg.

Western Cape: West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, Cape Town, Central Karoo District are hotspots. This is in addition to the Garden Route District.

North West: Bojanala District.

Limpopo: Waterberg District, Capricorn District.

All beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in the hotspot areas will be closed to the public with effect from Tuesday but national and provincial parks and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place may remain open to the public, the president announced.

WATCH: Ramaphosa gives update on SA's response to COVID-19 pandemic

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