President Cyril Ramaphosa wears a mask ahead of his address to the nation on June 17 2020. Picture: GCIS/JAIRUS MMUTLE
President Cyril Ramaphosa wears a mask ahead of his address to the nation on June 17 2020. Picture: GCIS/JAIRUS MMUTLE

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 8pm on Thursday night, when he is expected to announce tighter restrictions as the country heads into the festive season.

His address follows a special sitting of the cabinet that considered recommendations of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) meeting, the presidency said.

Business Day was informed that the health department had recommended to the NCCC, the body set up to advise the cabinet on measures to deal with the spread of the pandemic, that the maximum size of indoor gatherings be reduced and an earlier curfew put in place. There was also a recommendation on tighter restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

It is not clear if the new regulations will be implemented across the country, which is currently at level 1 of the risk-adjusted strategy, or just in identified hotspots. Concern has been raised about the resurgence of the virus in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape recently.

The limited nature of the new restrictions is a sign that the government recognises the need to tread lightly to try to avoid another hard lockdown, with the last one having led to a loss of more than 2-million jobs in the second quarter.

However, the issue is pressing because a large number of people are expected to travel between provinces after public schools close, then again when the festive season ends, raising the risk that they could reseed the epidemic in places where transmission is low at present.

The national state of disaster has been extended to December 15. The government is, however, expected to extend it for another month.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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