The President of South, Africa Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that his country will move to lockdown level 3 starting at midnight on Monday 28 December.
As part of the new stricter Covid-19 rules, not wearing a mask is now a criminal offence and people who aren’t wearing masks in public can be arrested.
Until now the owners and managers of shops and public buildings, employers and operators of public transport have had a legal responsibility to ensure that everyone entering their premises or vehicle is wearing a mask.
“But given the grave danger our country now faces, the adjusted level 3 regulations will make every individual legally responsible for wearing a mask in public,” said Ramaphosa.
From now on it is compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space.
“A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence,” he said.
A person who does not wear a mask could be arrested and prosecuted.
On conviction, they will be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.
“This is a drastic measure but is now necessary to ensure compliance with the most basic of preventative measures,” Ramaphosa said.
The President also said all indoor and outdoor gatherings, except funerals, will be prohibited for the next 14 days.
The curfew is adjusted from 09:00pm to 06:00 am and all non-essential establishments like bars and restaurants must close at 20:00.
The sale of alcohol has also been banned and nightclubs and bars which sell alcohol will not be allowed to operate.