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South Africa police on patrol during stricter COVID measures

South Africa police on patrol during stricter COVID measures
Workers clear the display shelves of a closed liquor store in Johannesburg Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Denis Farrell/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

South Africa

Police officers are on patrol in South Africa, ensuring residents respect a new 9 pm until 6 am curfew.

The country, with the most cases in Africa, imposed stricter coronavirus measures after more than one million infections were reported with almost 27,000 deaths since the virus outbreak in March.

On Monday in a nationwide address, President Cyril Ramaphosa also announced a ban on alcohol sales, beach closures, restrictions on social gatherings and made mask-wearing mandatory.

Failure to wear a mask could result in a possible prison sentence or fine.

Read more: **'Hypocrisy' and 'having fun': S. Africans react to new COVID measures**

New virus variant driving spike in South Africa

SANDF denies report that members' leave is canceled due to the Covid-19 spike.

Ramaphosa also ordered shops bars and other venues to close by 8 pm.

The lockdown measures could be eased from mid-January if cases drop, the president said.

He largely blamed social gatherings especially between the young for the new surge and "reckless behaviour" caused by drinking, as well as a failure to respect social distancing measures.

"Reckless behaviour due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission. Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on our hospital emergency units," Ramaphosa said.

Read more: South Africa's hospitals are overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases spike

'Don't put alcohol in your teapots'

Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Tuesday restaurants would lose their trading licences and owners could be prosecuted if they do not comply with the ban.

"Don't put alcohol in your teapots in restaurants. Don't put alcohol in the bottles written 0% alcohol. We know your tricks, don't do that," said Cele.

Vaccine delay

South Africa is also battling a new strain of the virus, which is said to be more contagious.

But Ramaphosa has also been criticised after he said vaccinations will arrive in the second quarter of 2021, which many say it is far too late.

South Africa has joined the nationwide COVAC programme.

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