'This is a fight to save every life': Ramaphosa bans booze, enforces masks and announces curfew

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  • The sale, dispensation and distribution of alcohol has been banned with immediate effect.
  • A night-time curfew kicks in on Monday between the hours of 21:00 and 04:00.
  • And compulsory wearing of masks will be enforced.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday laid down the law in emphatic style, announcing a tough raft of restrictions on civil liberties to battle Covid-19.

The president said: "On the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, Cabinet has... decided that the country will remain at alert Level 3 at this time, but that we should however strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and take certain additional measures."

These included an alcohol ban: "As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided. 

"This is a fight to save every life, and we need to save every bed. 

"We have therefore decided that in order to conserve hospital capacity, the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect."

He said there was clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales had resulted in substantial pressure placed on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma. 

READ | Booze is illegal again, but parks can open: What we know about the new Level 3

"Most of these and other trauma injuries occur at night."

On the curfew, Ramaphosa announced that "as an additional measures to reduce the pressure on hospitals, a curfew will be put in place between the hours of 21:00 and 04:00". 

"Apart from people who need to travel to and from work or who need to seek urgent medical or other assistance during this time, everyone will be required to remain at home. 

"The curfew will take effect from tomorrow, Monday, 13 July 2020 at 21:00."

READ | Level 3: Trauma cases rise at 2 Cape Town hospitals just days after easing of regulations

On the wearing of masks, the president said in order to reduce the rate of transmission, the wearing of cloth masks would be made mandatory. 

"While many South Africans are wearing masks, there are, however, some among us who are not wearing masks when in public. 

"It is therefore important that we should enforce the wearing of masks. 

"Regulations on the wearing of masks will be strengthened. Employers, shop owners and managers, public transport operators, and managers and owners of any other public building are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask," the president instructed. 

In addition: "All workplaces and all institutions need to ensure that there is a designated coronavirus official responsible for making sure that all regulations and all precautions are strictly adhered to."

Earlier in his speech, Ramaphosa had expressed dismay at certain behaviours, explaining: "Even as most of our people have taken action to prevent the spread of the virus, there are others who have not. 

"There are some among us who ignore the regulations that have been passed to combat the disease. They also act without any responsibility to respect and protect each other. 

"In the midst of our national effort to fight against this virus there are a number of people who have taken to organising parties, who have drinking sprees, and some who walk around in crowded spaces without masks," Ramaphosa said.

The new measures introduced on Sunday were to tackle these indiscretions.

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