By Thupeyo Muleya
South Africa will close its borders to general passenger traffic until 15 February to contain the spread of a new strain of the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the decision last night while giving an update on the state of affairs concerning the containment of the pandemic.
Under the new regulations, only commercial cargo, diplomats, daily commuters with school or work visas and those seeking emergency medical attention, will be allowed through the border.
President Ramaphosa said foreigners and South African returnees will also be allowed to leave or arrive.
“Based on the recommendations of the National Coronavirus Command Council, cabinet has decided to maintain the country on adjusted alert level 3.
“Most of the measures that were announced on 28 December 2020 will therefore remain in place,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said congestion at the country’s borders was one of the major challenges that needed addressing.
He said congestion at ports of entry had exposed many people to infection as they waited to be processed.
“To reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission, Cabinet has decided that the 20 land ports of entry that are currently open will be closed until the 15th of February for general entry and departure.
“These include the six busiest border posts, which are Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein,” said President Ramaphosa.
People will be allowed through the borders for the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods, and emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition.
Said President Ramaphosa: “Given the risk of widespread transmission, most indoor and outdoor gatherings will not be permitted. This includes social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds.”
Funerals will not be attended by over 50 people, and that there be social distancing, hand sanitising and wearing of face masks.
The curfew hours will now start at 9pm and end at 5am.
The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and on-site consumption of alcohol remains banned. The Chronicle.