President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will remain under an adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown for at least another two weeks, with some changes.
While South Africa’s prohibition on the sale of alcohol will remain in effect, restaurants will be allowed to reopen and seat a maximum of 50 people indoors.
Smaller restaurants will have their seating limited to 50% of their normal capacity.
Certain other facilities such as gyms will also be allowed to reopen, within limits.
Agricultural activities such as livestock auctions will also be permitted with restrictions.
All religious, social, political, and cultural gatherings remain banned and schools will remain closed until 26 July.
The sale of alcohol will remain banned despite pleas from the industry for the restrictions on them to be relaxed.
“Our health system countrywide remains under pressure. By next week, daily hospital admissions across the country are likely to reach the levels observed during the peak of the first two waves,” Ramaphosa stated.
“Covid-19 related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, and have surpassed those observed at the peak of the first wave.”
Research recently published in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) found compelling evidence that a blanket ban on alcohol was extremely effective at reducing the number of unnatural deaths related to trauma injuries.
Alcohol bans are more effective than curfews at reducing deaths due to trauma injuries, according to the research.
South Africa’s alcohol industry has warned that an extension of the alcohol ban will lead to the permanent loss of thousands of jobs, with South African Breweries taking government to court to have the current level 4 lockdown regulations declared unlawful.
Restaurants lodged similar complaints.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa said that extending the current lockdown will decimate the industry. It joined the legal challenge brought by South African Breweries.
Ster-Kinekor said that another protracted lockdown would crush its already fragile business. The current regulations banned its indoor theatres and drive-ins from operating.
“This new closure will be a devastating blow, especially at a time when cinemas are starting to experience an encouraging increase in attendances,” the company said.
Ster-Kinekor began voluntary business rescue proceedings on 27 January 2021 in the wake of the country’s second wave of Covid-19 infections and the lockdown that ensued.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported that 16,302 new Covid-19 cases were identified in South Africa in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,195,599. This increase represents a 30.4% positivity rate.
The National Department of Health reported a further 151 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 64,289 to date.
The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng, with the proportions of new cases reported breaking down as follows:
- Gauteng — 52%
- Western Cape — 12%
- KwaZulu-Natal — 9%
- Limpopo — 7%
- Mpumalanga — 7%
- North West — 6%
- Eastern Cape — 3%
- Free State — 2%
- Northern Cape — 1%
There has been an increase of 459 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.
Ramaphosa said that these adjusted Alert Level 4 regulations will remain in effect for another two weeks — 25 July 2021.