Another district set to join NMB in receiving ‘tougher lockdown restrictions’

District officials in the Sarah Baartman Municipality have asked Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to impose tougher lockdown restrictions upon the region – like the ones put in place for NMB last week – as COVID-19 cases continue to rise sharply.

Is Sarah Baartman getting tougher lockdown restrictions?

The request comes at a grim time for the region, which engulfs the entire Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. There have been a total of 15 853 COVID-positive cases here since the start of the pandemic, with 395 deaths recorded. However, it is the number of active cases – which has now shot above the 1 500 mark – that has spooked district officials.

9fcefbed eastern cape sarah baartman - Another district set to join NMB in receiving ‘tougher lockdown restrictions’
The Sarah Baartman District is made up of seven smaller sub-districts, enclosing Nelson Mandela Bay to the south – Photo: Wikimedia Commons

NMB lockdown restrictions could be rolled out elsewhere

On Thursday, Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and revealed that NMB would be the first place in South Africa to get its own ‘localised’ lockdown laws. The tougher restrictions came into force on the same night, and the leaders of Sarah Baartman are actively campaigning to join their neighbours in tightening the screw. The new rules would cover:

  • Alcohol sales: Retailers can only sell booze from Monday – Thursday, from 10:00 until 18:00.
  • Bar and restaurant opening hours: These venues will have to close at 21:00.
  • Curfew hours extended: There will now be a six-hour shutdown for our hot-spots, from 22:00 – 4:00.
  • Indoor gatherings: The maximum occupancy has been reduced from 250 to 100 people. The 50% capacity rule also applies
  • Public behaviour: Drinking on beaches and in parks has been banned.
  • Funeral gatherings: All ‘after-tears’ parties have been forbidden.

Mkhize weighs-up strict lockdown controls for Sarah Baartman

During a public engagement on Wednesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) would consider adding Sarah Baartman to their ‘hot-spot’ list. He said that people have been crossing over from NMB to go and ‘enjoy themselves’ in the bordering Municipality – but that could soon come to a halt:

“We must speed up testing in these areas. The Department of Health must identify more testing stations and encourage people to test. I’ve noted your recommendation that the curfew in Sarah Baartman be the same as it is in NMB, your request for alcohol sale restrictions will also be considered. I will take these to the NCCC for their recommendation.”

“I’ve also noted your recommendation that the public spaces be closed and although we understand that people want to go out in the festive season, we cant do that at the expense of people’s lives, so we will look into that at a higher level. With NMB people now coming into Sarah Baartman to have fun, this area may also get restrictions.”

Zweli Mkhize

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