Tuesday’s “family meeting” with President Cyril Ramaphosa has been met with mixed reactions following the announcement of tweaked restrictions to lockdown level 1.
Ramaphosa said SA would remain on level 1 but tweaks would be made to some restrictions for the Easter long weekend.
The president said the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited for four days from Friday to Monday.
However, on-site sales at restaurants, shebeens, and bars will be allowed, according to licensing conditions, until 11pm.
Other changes announced were to social and religious gatherings.
“In recent weeks, we have held consultations with faith communities to find mutually beneficial solutions to the challenges of managing large crowds at religious services. Following this consultation, it has been determined religious gatherings over this period will be restricted to a total number of 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors,” said Ramaphosa.
“Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used. Congregants should not gather outside their usual places of worship, and people must go home and not sleep over after services.”
He said cabinet would review the measures on the size of gatherings within the next 15 days based on an assessment of the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and extent of compliance with health protocols.
The curfew time remains the same, from midnight to 4am. Public recreational spaces such as beaches, parks, and dams will remain open.
Funerals will continue to be restricted to a maximum of 100 people, and cannot last for longer than two hours.
Weighing in on the address, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the four day ban on alcohol around Easter was not only entirely unscientific but also places an unnecessary strain on the livelihoods of those who make their living in this sector.
“You might say it is only four days and it’s only off-site consumption sales, but it’s four entirely meaningless days. The only reason we’re seeing this senseless ban is because the things that would actually make a difference are seemingly beyond the abilities of this government.
“This is the ANC government trying desperately to look busy. Unable to do the one thing that really matters — procure and administer millions of vaccines — it feels it has to do something ahead of Easter, even if that something does more harm than good,” he said.
The EFF said it was disgusted by the permitted sale of alcohol for on-site consumption.
“Ramaphosa has basically encouraged people to go out and consume alcohol in public spaces in their numbers in what constitutes a festive season. By stopping alcohol sales from outlets for off-site consumption, Ramaphosa is encouraging mass gatherings at restaurants, mass infection and drinking and driving,” said the EFF.
The FF Plus criticised the government’s coronavirus vaccine rollout programme, saying it was launched too late.
Speaking on SABC News, party leader Pieter Groenewald said SA was way behind other countries when it came to its vaccination programme.
“Ramaphosa is on record many times saying by the end of the year we would have reached 40 million people vaccinated in SA. They didn’t start the process early enough and they had many excuses for that,” said Groenewald.
On social media, many users expressed different views about the adjustments made to level 1.
Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions:
Honestly speaking I'm starting to think the covid 19 panel of advisors are misleading the president & the country. I mean off-site alcohol consumption is prohibited but drinking at the clubs/restaurants is permitted? Hai maybe I'm over thinking things here! #FamilyMeeting pic.twitter.com/3mmZQ0KPWM
— IG: mvunyelwaradebe (@MvunyelwaRadebe) March 31, 2021
President could have said you not allowed to drink alcohol in public places, restaurants, in fact all the places he said we could. The alcohol should be consumed at at home, your private property not at pubs, tarvens, clubs because there's no control there #FamilyMeeting
— Luvuyo🌪️ (@lluvuyo) March 30, 2021
#FamilyMeeting one thing for sure this Easter weekend. The parties won't stop, the social distancing won't happen. And the third wave will come. #Ramaphosa biggest mistakes were allowing alcohol sales on site and allowing beaches and parks to be open. Good luck Mzansi. pic.twitter.com/MgV94WNkTK
— The Great One (@Kash786787) March 30, 2021
"If you want to drink alcohol this weekend, you must leave your home and go to a pub, restaurant or sheebeen" – Cyril Ramaphosa. #COVID19 #Ramaphosa #lockdown #level1 #NoxoloGrootboom #FamilyMeeting @phume22
— Kabelo (@Kabelo_K_B) March 30, 2021
President Ramaphosa is encouraging people to go out and drink alcohol instead of saying people should drink at home. How can he think it's a good idea for people to drink at shebeens and taverns instead of drinking at home🙆♀️🤷♀️#FamilyMeeting pic.twitter.com/nS5JcbwIaO
— 隔壁的那家伙👌 (@tbolicious_tbo) March 30, 2021
— Zondwa YemYem (@zwelitom) March 30, 2021
We can't buy alcohol from any liquor stores to consume endlini but we are allowed to go, to pubs and tarvens etc to gather. Then drink and drive back home.. what is the strategy lana.. balance ⚖️ me. #FamilyMeeting
— Moonlitedj (@Moonlitedj) March 30, 2021
It's true though that closing alcohol off site sale doesn't mitigate alcohol related incidents, those that have stocked, will go out, possibly drink and drive, this requires behavioural change from us. #FamilyMeeting
— Shadi (@wandileranelo) March 30, 2021