Nelson Mandela Bay is now officially a Covid-19 hotspot and, as a result, a stricter curfew will be implemented effective from midnight on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the metro had been identified with two other areas — the Sarah Baartman district and the Garden Route — as three areas accounting for most of the new infections in SA.
“When identifying a hotspot, consideration is given to the number of new Covid-19 cases per day, the testing rate within the population, the percentage positivity rate within the population, the number of active cases, the number of hospital admissions and the number of deaths,” he said.
“Following a recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council and after consultation with premiers, metro mayors and traditional leaders, the cabinet has decided to declare the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality a coronavirus hotspot.”
Hampering health professionals’ efforts to deal with the pandemic in the Bay was an increase reported by several hospitals in alcohol-related trauma admissions, he said.
“As we have said in the past, these alcohol-related trauma admissions divert capacity that is needed to deal with Covid-related cases.
“But by far the greatest contributing cause of infections is that many people are not wearing masks, and are not observing proper hygiene and social distancing.”
Ramaphosa said that in addition to existing alert level one regulations, the following restrictions would apply in Nelson Mandela Bay effective from midnight:
- The hours of the curfew will be from 10pm-4am. This means that — except for emergencies — no people may be outside their place of residence between those times. This does not apply to essential workers who are permitted to work during those hours;
- The sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10am-6pm from Monday to Thursday;
- Alcohol consumption in public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden. This is necessary to prevent large social gatherings;
- Gatherings — including religious gatherings — may not be attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events. At all times, the total number of people in a venue may not exceed more than 50% of the capacity of the venue; and
- All post-funeral gatherings are prohibited.
“These additional measures are necessary to contain the resurgence in Nelson Mandela Bay, to prevent outbreaks resulting from social gatherings and to protect the capacity of the health-care system to provide care to those who need it,” Ramaphosa said.
“In determining these restrictions, we have sought to take those steps which are absolutely necessary to save lives while limiting disruptions to the economy.”
Ramaphosa said an agreement had been arranged after consultation with traditional leaders to go ahead with the summer initiation season in the Eastern Cape — just not in the Bay because of the high rates of infection.
“The measures that are being taken in Nelson Mandela Bay are not meant to punish its residents.
“They are not intended to increase the hardship experienced by our citizens,” he said.
“These measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus and to save lives.
“Tonight we stand in solidarity with the people of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro as they work to contain this outbreak.
“I have the utmost confidence that the leadership of the Eastern Cape is doing and will do all that is necessary to bring the rate of infection down once again.”
Ramaphosa also extended the National State of Disaster to January 15.