As expected, President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared Nelson Mandela Bay a Covid-19 hotspot and as such, he - in accordance to advice given by the National Coronavirus Commission Council - has imposed stricter lockdown restrictions on the metro after a resurgence in Covid-19 coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.
During his address to the nation on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa cautioned citizens not to let their guard down as the festive season approaches.
“There is now clear evidence of a resurgence of infections in parts of our country, which if not confronted decisively and directly could lead to great suffering and death.”
“We must change our behaviour now to prevent this resurgence of the virus and mange outbreaks wherever they occur,” said Ramaphosa.
As such, Ramaphosa announced that the most urgent task was “to contain the spread in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape". He added that several hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay “have reported an increase in trauma cases related to alcohol”.
According to Ramaphosa, gatherings of many people in “poorly ventilated” indoor events such as “funerals, after-tears events and religious events” were now becoming “super spreaders of Covid-19”.
For the safety of all of us, those who break the rules must face consequences.— Cyril Ramaphosa ???? #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) December 3, 2020
He said there was a need for extra restrictions, especially in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Ramaphosa went on to declare the metro the first official Covid-19 hotspot in the country, and announced extra restrictions to curb levels of irresponsible behaviour at a social level in the region.
He announced a curfew from 10pm to 4am as well as restrictions on the sale of alcohol (Monday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm).
Ramaphosa also announced a restriction of 100 people for indoor religious gatherings and 200 for outdoor religious gatherings.
Although allowing initiation schools to commence with their activities in the Eastern and Western Cape, Ramaphosa said Nelson Mandela Bay could not go ahead with such practices for now as this could also lead to more infections.
The Western Cape, while also experiencing high levels of new infections with 30% of all active case being located in the province, escaped being declared a hotspot for now. But Ramaphosa said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize would visit the area and then make an assessment, which would guide on what action would be necessary.
Beyond the announced restrictions, Ramaphosa also took the opportunity to announce that government had extended the National State of Disaster to January 15 2021.
He also acknowledged that government was tracking carefully the development of vaccines being developed and had put aside R300 million for the procurement of a vaccine should it be approved and be made available.