It’s official: bars can open, but nightclubs – and only nightclubs – still closed
- Bars and taverns will be allowed to open this week – but not nightclubs.
- Nightclubs are specifically banned, regardless of social distancing measures, under Alert Level 2 rules published on Monday.
- The only other remaining total ban for other economic sectors is leisure air and ship travel – and spectators at sporting events.
- Young people have been carrying the virus from night clubs to the elderly, minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Come Tuesday morning, bars and taverns may open, and restaurants may serve alcohol up to a 22:00 curfew – but nightclubs will remain strictly banned.
Under new regulations gazetted early on Monday afternoon by cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, that leaves nightclubs as the only business activity that remains entirely banned.
Under the new rules, sporting events may still not host in-person spectators, though they may go ahead. Airlines may not fly tourists internationally for leisure, but may accommodate essential cross-border travellers, as well as domestic leisure travellers.
Passenger ships are likewise banned for cross-border leisure travel, but may be allowed to ply South African waters.
On nightclubs, though, there are no exceptions.
"Nightclubs are closed to the public," read the regulations, which are in force as of one minute past midnight on Tuesday.
That is even as licensed premises, including both restaurant and bars, are allowed to sell booze again, as long as they do so within the limitations of curfew.
“Having seen how young people have carrie the virus to the elderly from night clubs, we will continue with our night clubs closed," said Dlamini-Zuma at a press conference later in the afternoon. "And we have learnt from other countries that have opened up night clubs they had to close them pretty fast, because the virus was moving just as fast and energetic as the people at the night clubs."
The nightly curfew now starts at 22:00, after restaurants argued that a 21:00 limit meant they could not serve dinner fully, because staff had to leave work in time to be home before that deadline.
Bars and restaurants are expected to have ongoing special requirements in terms of social distancing for some time to come, and mask-wearing and other now-common precautions remain in place for all businesses.
* This article was updated with Dlamini-Zuma's comment on nightclubs after first publication.
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