There is still uncertainty over what the effect on residents and businesses will be after the Overberg was named by Pres Cyril Ramaphosa as one of several COVID-19 hotspots countrywide.

This follows the president’s announcement on Sunday 24 May that the whole country will be moving to Alert Level 3 of the lockdown from 1 June. This level will see an easing of several regulations, including the lifting of the ban on the sale of liquor, but not on cigarettes and other tobacco-related products.

In a televised address, Ramaphosa said details of the new regulations would be made available when discussions have been concluded. He added, however, that areas of the country where infection numbers are high, which he referred to as “hotspots”, may see more stringent restrictions, compared to other parts of the country.

According to Level 3 regulations, curfews will be discontinued, outdoor exercise may take place at any time, and alcohol sales by liquor stores (though not bars) for off-premises consumption will be permitted. Most manufacturing, construction, financial services, professional and business services, information technology, government services, and media services can be reopened, while wholesale and retail trade will be fully functional, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders.

However, many businesses will not be allowed to trade, including hairdressers and beauty salons, restaurants (apart from takeaways for delivery, collection or drive-through services), bars, taverns, and shebeens, or nightclubs and casinos.

Hotels, lodges and other accommodation facilities will remain closed, as well as gyms and sporting facilities, cinemas, flea markets and bazaars. For now, churches will also have to remain closed. But Ramaphosa said that proposals for partial access to “spiritual worship” – subject to certain norms and standards – are being considered.

All gatherings will remain prohibited, except for funerals, with an attendance of no more than 50 people, or meetings in the workplace for work purposes. People are requested to stay at home, especially those over 60 and people with underlying health conditions. No visiting of friends or family will be allowed.

For reopening businesses, Ramaphosa said that, where possible, employees should continue to work from home, and on site, companies would have to adhere to strict control measures. All staff who are older than 60 years of age and those who suffer from underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer should stay at home.

However, differentiated lockdown levels for different parts of the country could see those with severe Coronavirus infections stepped back a level (or two).

“Should it be necessary, any part of the country could be returned to alert levels four or five if the spread of infection is not contained despite our interventions, and there is a risk of our health facilities being overwhelmed,” he said.

A hotspot is defined as an area that has more than five infected people per 100 000, or where new infections are increasing at a particularly rapid rate. Cape Town, the Cape West Coast, Overberg and Cape Winelands district municipalities were mentioned as hotspots in the Western Cape. The list of hotspot areas will be reviewed every two weeks depending on the progression of the virus.

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