Opposition parties react to new COVID-19 restrictions

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country will remain on alert level 3 for now. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties have reacted to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will remain on Alert Level 3 with additional restrictions amid rising COVID-19 infections.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa stated the NCCC had considered returning all or parts of the country to higher alert levels amid the increasing rate of infections but the economic and social implications would cause greater harm.

READ: COVID-19: SA to remain on level 3 lockdown

“On the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, Cabinet has therefore decided that the country will remain at Alert Level 3 at this time.

"But that we should, however, strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and take certain additional measures,” said Ramaphosa.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party said the alcohol ban and a night-time curfew were a distraction from the state's failure to bolster treatment and testing capacity.

"These ineffective gimmicks are an attempt to obscure the truth of our situation: that the national government has completely and utterly wasted South Africa's long and crippling lockdown," said DA leader John Steenhuisen in a statement.

READ: Ramaphosa warns of 'coronavirus storm'

South Africa is the worst-affected country on the continent with 276,242 registered cases including 4,079 deaths as of Sunday.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted his skepticism on some of the points of the president’s address, including on the allowances made for the transport industry and resumption of economic activity.

“The man says we are reaching a peak of infections: then goes on to legalize 100% taxi passenger capacity... with open windows:- has Ramaphosa been in a taxi in Winter? Banna am I missing something? #WeAreNotLed”

WATCH: Alcohol sales suspended with immediate effect​​​​​​​

“He’s introduced Level 4 Lite, but it won’t help! Curfew, alcohol ban will all not help if everything else is still open. If the peak is going to pass in two months, you must shutdown everything NOW. Otherwise, what is coming is not a peak, but actually just the beginning!” Ndlozi said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party welcomed the banning of the sale of alcohol but called for additional restrictions on schools.

“However, the IFP will continue to mobilise for the closing of schools to prevent and to possibly slow down the rates of infection and to protect the lives of our children; The 100% occupancy rate of mini-bus taxis grinds against the grain of social and physical distancing regulations – We believe that a national consultative dialogue between government and the taxi-industry must take place urgently.”

READ: SA cases rise to 276,242 

"While we are aware of the difficulties in restricting people’s movement - the 21h00 pm to 04h00 am curfew together with the immediate suspension on the sale and distribution of liquor and the more stringent legal requirements for the wearing of masks are welcomed," the party said.

The Freedom Front Plus released a statement saying, "the president acknowledged that the government failed to successfully enforce existing basic protocols such as wearing masks, while it is well known that great efforts were made to enforce nonsensical regulations such as arresting people on beaches."

The ACDP welcomed the banning of alcohol sales.

- Additional reporting AFP

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