Police Minister Bheki Cele has issued a warning to those who want to violate the rules now that the country has relaxed restrictions and is in lockdown level 1.
“We are aware that as the days get warmer and the restrictions are more relaxed, law enforcement will have to work harder to ensure they bring an end to any behaviour that threatens the containment of Coronavirus,” Cele said during a media briefing on Tuesday.
He said the police would be on high alert. A restriction he said the police will be strict is that of the new curfew which is observed between 00h00 and 04h00.
Cele announced that since the start of lockdown, 310 494 people have been arrested and charged with going against the Disaster Management Act. These violations range from liquor, transport, business and cross-border related offences.
The Western Cape recorded the most arrests with 72 137, followed by Gauteng with 59 000.
Cele said while social gatherings, including concerts and live performances are permitted, nightclubs are still closed.
Under level 1, no more than 100 mourners can attend a funeral, while night vigils are still not permitted.
“Communities are urged to be considerate when hosting social gatherings in residential areas. There are many complaints received of noisy and disruptive behaviour in people’s homes,” the Minister said.
The Minister reminded citizens that the sale of liquor is permitted from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, while no booze can be sold for off-site consumption over the weekend or during public holidays.
“Equally, alcohol cannot be sold as takeaways; it must be consumed on the premises where it was bought. It’s that simple,” Cele said.
He condemned the disregard of the rules by some liquor outlet owners and said, "some businesses choose to flout the rules in the name of profit.”
On his visit to Ekurhuleni he came across several shebeens and taverns operating way past the stipulated 10pm curfew under alert level 2.
“More disturbing, was the practice of some liquor outlets squeezing patriots inside their venues with shut windows and doors.” Those who are arrested are usually the owners and managers, while patrons are let go, Cele said.
Under level 1, weddings and other events are also permitted as long as health and safety protocols and regulations are followed.
“The owner or operator of a restaurant, a conferences, meetings, weddings, exhibitions or functions venue, a hotel, lodge, bed and breakfast, timeshare facility, resort, guest house or a casino must display a certificate of occupancy which sets out the maximum number of persons the facility may hold,” said Tourism Minister ,Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
“I remain encouraged by the high recovery rate. Over 15 000 have won the battle against the virus and are back to serving their communities,” he said and that the virus is still “very much with us”, despite the further lifting of restrictions.
“People need to take responsibility for their own lives and that of their loved ones.”