South African President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday announced that the country’s 20 land ports will be closed to the general public for the next two weeks amid an increase in Covid-19 infections at the borders.
However, President Ramaphosa said people will be allowed to cross in ‘limited circumstances’- these include diplomats, daily commuters with school or work visas, those seeking emergency medical attention as well as returning South African nationals or permanent residents
Commercial cargo and fuel will be allowed to cross the border.
The closure of the borders comes at a time when many people were returning back to SA after the festive holidays.
According to recent statistics, 33,138 people crossed the Beitbridge border post between 1 and 7 January.
During his address to the Nation, Mr Ramaphosa said his government had decided to close all land ports in order to curb the spread of the virus and to reduce congestion.
“To reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission, (the) cabinet has decided that the 20 land ports of entry that are now open will be closed until February 15 for general entry and departure,” Ramaphosa said.
Beitbridge and Lebombo (SA-Mozambique Border) were singled out to be hotspots of Covid-19 infections because of massive congestion witnessed over the past two months.
Ramaphosa also said that the country will remain under level 3 lockdown that was put in place on 28 December 2020.
Under the new level 3 lockdown measures that have now been extended to February 15, curfew hours have been increased by an hour and now starts from 9 pm and ends at 6 am.
The sale of alcohol and all public gatherings remain banned: “Given the risk of widespread transmission, most indoor and outdoor gatherings will not be permitted. This includes social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds,” said Ramaphosa.