Ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation tonight, the ANC has recommended that government introduce new Covid-19 regulatory measures over the Easter weekend, including restrictions on bottle stores and major retailers selling alcohol for off-site consumption over the upcoming long weekend.
Ramaphosa is due to announce tonight decisions of the Cabinet and the national coronavirus command council on measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 during the holiday weekend. This follows extensive consultations with many stakeholders, including religious formations, business and trade unions.
However, the proposal says taverns and restaurants would remain open, in line with the licensing requirements on closing times.
The ANC’s national executive committee meeting this past weekend received a report of the special inter-government committee meeting on disaster management last Monday, where possible regulatory measures to be implemented over the Easter period and beyond were discussed, according to the minutes of the meeting, which City Press had seen.
The discussions included a provision that the alcohol industry ensure compliance that “establishments do not use their on-site licences to sell alcohol for off-site consumption”.
Other issues of consensus included that curfew remained from 12 midnight to 4am; and beaches, parks, dams and recreational areas remain open but with conditions of social distancing, wearing of masks and no loud music. Government was persuaded that, for these establishments, it was “difficult to enforce restrictions when closed as it was not a criminal offence”.
Restaurants, bars and shebeens would also remain open, with 50% capacity, limited to 250 people and subject to 1.5 metre social distancing.
Issues still to be debated include how to deal with religious gatherings, funerals and other similar events. The majority view in government preferred a maximum of 250 attendants for indoor gatherings and 500 for outdoor gatherings. The minority preferred 500 and 1 000 for indoor and outdoor gatherings, respectively. Possible restrictions on inter-provincial travel also required further discussions, but the dominant view favoured closure.
“Examples were mentioned of many communities that suffered loss of lives during the December holidays when many people in the same area died due to increased spread associated with inter-provincial travel. Exceptions still need to be provided for funerals, caring for the sick and elderly, custody of children, etcetera, as there have been a number of court cases on the matter,” read the document.
It went on to say that there was a “ strong view” to allow inter-provincial travel as borders are open. This, it says, is in line with international practice and World Health Organisation recommendations.
“It is further argued that it will be a big blow to tourism, the aviation industry and the economy. Many people have already made bookings to travel,” the document argues.