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Coronavirus: Govt clamps down on pubs and clubs, limits patrons to 50 and declares 6pm as closing time

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Mar 18, 2020

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Johannesburg - Government is clamping down on liquor sales at clubs, pubs and restaurants with immediate effect. The government has also clarified how it would handle suspected coronavirus patients who refused testing or treatment.  

In a Government Gazette signed on Tuesday by Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, government said pubs and clubs would be limited to 50 patrons at a time as part of measures to fight the coronavirus.

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster. 

Since, more than 116 people in the country have been infected with the virus, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. 

As part of regulations, Dlamini Zuma said government was placing a limit on the sale and transportation of liquor. 

“All registered or licensed on-consumption liquor premises which can accommodate, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must be closed with immediate effect, or must be limited to accommodate no more than 50 persons: Provided that adequate space is available and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure of persons with the Covid-19 virus are adhered to,” she said. 

The regulations effectively shut down all night clubs as the regulations also state that they must be closed between 6pm and 9am during weekdays and on Saturdays. This includes pubs, clubs and restaurants which sell liquor.

On Sundays and on public holidays, the pubs, clubs and restaurants which sell liquour must be closed between 1pm and 6am.

For liquor stores, government said they must be closed between 6pm and 9am on weekdays ad on Saturdays, and on Sundays and public holidays, they must be closed between 1pm and 9am.


PROSECUTION

Meanwhile, the government has warned that any clubs, restaurants or liquor outlets who do not adhere to the regulations may be imprisoned for upto six months in jail. 

“Any person who convenes a gathering; permits more than 50 persons at premises where liquor is sold and consumed; or hinders, interferes with, or obstructs an enforcement officer in the exercise of his or her powers, or the performance of his or her duties in terms of these Regulations, is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment,” the Government Gazette warned. 

FAKE NEWS

It also said people who disseminated fake news and falsely claimed to have contracted the Covid-19 virus could be issued with a fine and/or imprisoned. 

“Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with Covid-19 is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment”.

And for those who have contracted the virus, the government said deliberate spreading of the virus would result in them being charged with either assault, attempted murder or murder. 

“Any person who intentionally exposes another person to Covid-19 may be prosecuted for an offence, including assault, attempted murder or murder”.

The government has also clarified that no person within the borders of South Africa may refuse treatment to Covid-19. 

Earlier this week, a mother and daughter fled from a public hospital after they had been confirmed to be carrying the virus. The father refused to be tested. 

The Gauteng Department of Health had to approach the courts for an urgent court order which allowed the police to restrain and trackdown the family. 

“No person who has been clinically, or by a laboratory, confirmed as having Covid-19, or who is suspected of having contracted Covid-19, or who has been in contact with a person who is a carrier of Covid–19, may refuse consent to an enforcement officer for — submission of that person to a medical examination, including but not limited to the taking of any bodily sample by a person authorised in law to do so; admission of that person to a health establishment or a quarantine or isolation site; or submission of that person to mandatory prophylaxis, treatment, isolation or quarantine or isolation in order to prevent transmission: 

“Provided that if a person does not comply with the instruction or order of the enforcement officer, that person must be placed in isolation or quarantine for a period of 48 hours, as the case may be, pending a warrant being issued by a magistrate, on application by an enforcement officer for the medical examination contemplated in paragraph,” said the government. 

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* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999

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