South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday night the country would return to level three lockdown with immediate effect to tackle COVID-19 surge.
“The number of new coronavirus infections is climbing at an unprecedented rate,” Ramaphosa said in his televised address.
More than 50,000 COVID-19 infections have been reported in South Africa since Christmas Eve.
Now outdoor and indoor gatherings which have been identified as super-spreaders are now banned.
Only funerals with only 50 people would be permitted.
“Rapid rise in infections is being fuelled by so-called super-spreader events, including like end-of-year functions, family and social gatherings, and music and cultural events,” he noted.
The sale of alcohol by retailers has also been banned.
“Reckless behavior due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission. Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on our hospital emergency units,” Ramaphosa said.
“The liquor industry is a major employer and an important contributor to our economy. Our priority at this time, however, must be to save lives,” he added.
Ramaphosa said a country-wide curfew would be extended from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Businesses such as restaurants and bars would all close at 8 p.m.
These new measures would be in place until Jan. 15.
As of Dec. 28, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa is 1,011,871.
The death toll is 27,071.