President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has announced a raft of new restrictions as the country enters a second coronavirus wave, with infections expected to rise further over the festive season.
Alcohol sales will be restricted, curfews will be in place from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., and gatherings of more than 100 people indoors are banned across the country. In areas with the highest number of case, there will be even tighter restrictions, including the closing of beaches and public parks in some areas, Mr. Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Monday.
Four provinces are driving the surge in cases: Eastern Cape; Gauteng, the economic heart of the country; KwaZulu-Natal; and Western Cape, known for its wine routes and stunning beaches. Before the holiday season, when many gather at the seaside, beaches will be closed in Eastern Cape and along the Garden Route in Western Cape.
“The festive season now poses the greatest threat to the health and well-being of our nation,” Mr. Ramaphosa said in his broadcast.
The president warned that the resurgence threatened to overwhelm the South African health system, noting that, “if we do not act urgently and if we do not act together, the second wave will be more severe than the first wave.”
South Africa, the sub-Saharan region’s most developed economy, has recorded more than 866,000 coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database. The average number of new daily cases has risen to more than 6,800, from around 3,800 a week ago, according to the database and government statistics. Officials said that another concern was the fact that new infections were highest among young people for the first time since the pandemic began.
The trend is being driven by student “rage” events — a series of alcohol-fueled parties, or gatherings at nightclubs and festivals, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, the South African health minister, said in a radio interview on Monday.
Dr. Mkhize said that the large number of these parties with “no adherence” to social distancing, adequate ventilation and other mitigation measures had led to several so-called superspreader events. After one big party in the southeastern coastal town of Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal Province this month, almost 1,000 students tested positive.