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Government Not Limiting People’s Rights, But Curbing The Spread of Covid-19 Says Dlamini Zuma

08 December 2015 Intreview with AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at CSIR in Pretoria. Pic: Simphiwe Nkwali. © Sunday Times.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has said the government is not trying to take away people’s liberties and rights with a continued ban on alcohol and limitations on family visits.

Dlamini Zuma was briefing the media on Monday to expand on the latest measures being implanted to curb the spread of the coronavirus. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the country would remain on level 3 of the risk-adjusted lockdown. He announced the return on the ban on alcohol sales and the return of a curfew between 9 pm and 4 am.

The president said these measures were needed to help free up space in the country’s hospital to deal with Covid-19 related trauma cases and not alcohol-related cases.

Dlamini Zuma justified the return of the alcohol ban saying it was proven that when people gather and drink alcohol they would be less likely to follow regulations of wearing masks and social distancing.

“When people are drinking in groups they let their guard down. Even social distancing will go and the spread will happen. The way it (alcohol) socially brings people together, but more importantly, when people have taken liquor they get drunk and indulge in irresponsible behaviour and become violent and kill each other. When they get to their cars they create accidents and have to be rushed to hospitals and they become an emergency.

“Which means they are taking up space that should be used to treat people who are ill and have Covid-19. They would be taking away the resources needed for Covid-19. They take away medical personnel. Cabinet has decided that we need to suspend the sale of alcohol,” Dlamini Zuma explained.

The minister explained other regulations about the curfew. Only permit holder would be allowed to travel between 9 pm and 4 am.

“It should not be seen that the government is limiting our rights. Government is trying to limit the spread of the virus because the spread happens through the movement of people. For this reason, the curfew has been brought back,” she explained.

Hotels and lodges should only be operational for quarantine purposes and not leisure purposes. The ban on family visits remains as there was a need to contain the spread of the virus which could take place when people visit each other, the minister said.

The wearing of masks was now mandatory and not wearing one in public including on public transport could see people being fined, Dlamini Zuma explained. Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said at the moment there was no criminal charge possible for those who do not wear masks, but the decision of whether to charge such people would be revisited if the behaviour does not change.

“It is now the law. A shopkeeper cannot allow you to enter without wearing a mask,” Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu explained.

Inter-provincial travel was still not allowed. On the operation of taxis, Dlamini Zuma explained that taxi operators should ensure that passengers wear masks. The taxi industry will be allowed to operate at full capacity for short-distance travel and 70% capacity for long-distance travel.

Public parks would be opened, but they should serve as places for people to exercise and walk and not for public gatherings. The country’s beaches would remain closed as people use those spaces to gather.

Dlamini Zuma stressed that stopping the spread of the virus was a collective responsibility and she said that those who continue to host parties were being reckless as “people spread the virus”.

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