Despite the easing of some restrictions in South Africa, amidst a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced that the country’s borders will remain closed, and travel between provinces in the country was also prohibited.
“Our borders will remain closed to international travel, except for the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens. No travel will be allowed between provinces, except for the transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals,” Ramaphosa said in a much anticipated televised national address.
He said public transport will continue to operate, with limitations on the number of passengers and stringent hygiene requirements, including that every passengers must wear a face mask.
“The public is encouraged to stay at home, other than for essential personal movement, doing essential work and work in sectors that are under controlled opening. People can exercise under strict public health conditions. All gatherings, apart from funerals and for work, will remain prohibited,” Ramaphosa said.
“Those who are elderly, and those with underlying conditions, must remain at home and take additional precautions to isolate themselves.”
Ramaphosa, however, announced that the sale of cigarettes will now be permitted from next month.
“The range of goods that may be sold will be extended to incorporate certain additional categories. These will be detailed by the relevant ministers. It is important to note that several restrictions will remain in place regardless of the level of alert for as long as the risk of transmission is present,” he said.
Bars and shebeens across South Africa will remain closed. Conference and convention centres, entertainment venues, cinemas, theatres, and concerts will also remain closed. Concerts, sporting events, and religious, cultural and social gatherings will not be allowed “until it is deemed safe for them to continue”, said Ramaphosa.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced earlier on Thursday that ten more people have succumbed to coronavirus in South Africa, bringing the death toll in the country to 75.
“Today we regrettably report 10 new deaths. This brings the total to 75. We convey our condolences to the families of the deceased and thank our health workers who treated the deceased patients,” Mkhize said in a statement.
Thursday’s latest statistics indicated that six people had died in the Western Cape, two in KwaZulu-Natal, one in Gauteng and another in the Eastern Cape province.
Mkhize said the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa had increased considerably to 3,953.