These are the 7 metros and 5 districts that have been declared Covid-19 hotspots
Cape Town - Government has declared seven metros and five districts coronavirus (Covid-19) hotspots where lockdown alert levels may be escalated and movement restricted after the country moves to level 3 on June 1, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said on Thursday.
The metros are Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, and Nelson Mandela Bay. The affected districts are West Coast, Overberg, and Cape Winelands in the Western Cape, and Chris Hani in the Eastern Cape and iLembe in KwaZulu-Natal.
Dlamini Zuma confirmed that these regions would also move to level 3 lockdown on Monday, but added they could be subjected to "higher level restrictions, including restricting movement and to and from hotspots", should other interventions to reduce the rate of transmission fail.
The interventions which may be enforced by the minister of health, in consultation with the relevant health authorities in hotspots, include "intensive surveillance" measures, according to the latest schedule of regulations.
The new regulations lift the night-time military curfew, extend the permitted exercise time to 6pm and allow the sale of alcohol from Mondays to Thursdays, but maintains the controversial ban on the sale of cigarettes.
It also keeps in place the ban on inter-provincial travel, except for those who have permits to allow them to work in another province or attend a funeral. Travelling between metropolitan areas, districts and hotspots is also not allowed, except for work, schooling and funerals and moving to a new residence.
Dlamini-Zuma said this decision was taken because "inter-provincial travel has contributed to community transmission". She reiterated that the decision to ease restrictions was informed by South Africa's socio-economic constraints, though the infection rate was increasing and the expected peak of coronavirus cases in the country was "still on the horizon".
Some eight million South Africans are expected to return to work under level 3, including the civil service. Dlamini-Zuma said government was obliging every company to have "a Covid-19 compliance officer and plan", which would be clearly communicated to all employees and open for inspection by government. The measures announced on Thursday were not easy, but all were necessary to save lives. She stressed that wearing cloth face masks in public was obligatory.
There are currently just under 26,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa, with almost two-thirds of cases registered in the Western Cape, which incorporates three of the districts listed as hotspots.
Government this week said its efforts would be focused on ensuring that the transmission rate in these areas was curbed through an aggressive tracing and isolation programme to ensure that it was not replicated across the country.
Under the new regulations, restrictions on religious gatherings were relaxed, but people may not congregate in groups of more than 50 at a time, and had to remain at a distance of 1.5 metres from each other. Should the place of worship be too small to accommodate that number at that distance, the group had to be smaller, Dlamini-Zuma said.
Besides these, funerals, and work, the only other gatherings that would be allowed were agricultural auctions and professional, non-contact sports matches. Only sporting officials and television crews would be allowed, and no spectators.
Bars, gyms, hotels, beaches, museums, cinemas, threatres, conference centers, and public parks would remain closed during level 3 of the lockdown.
National borders would remain closed, except for the movement of goods through ports, the repatriation of citizens, and humanitarian missions. Travel by diplomats and members of international organisations would be allowed.
The ban on evictions from rented homes would fall away under the new regulations, the minister said, for the reason that rental income was recognised as a vital source of income. However, the process had to be sanctioned by a court as fair.
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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za
African News Agency (ANA)