Archive from December, 2020

Who is exempt from hotel quarantine after entering Australia?

Once you touch down in Australia, the Government does allow exemptions from hotel quarantine in some instances
The case of a 53-year-old Australian dual citizen and her son who were incorrectly allowed to travel to Victoria and avoid hotel quarantine after flying into Sydney has put the spotlight back on quarantine exemptions.
While police wrongly believed these two travellers had a valid exemption to avoid quarantine, the Australian Government does allow travellers exemption from hotel quarantine in some instances.
Here is a rundown on who can enter Australia by air or sea and be exempt from hotel quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
International transit
People arriving in Australia can leave on another international flight out of the country and can avoid hotel quarantine as long as they stay at the airport where they entered Australia and the next flight leaves within eight hours.
If the wait time for your next flight is from eight to 72 hours, travellers are required to go into mandatory quarantine.
You must stay in the quarantine facility until the time of your departing flight.
If you intend to spend more than 72 hours in Australia waiting for a connecting flight, the Department of Home Affairs says you are not considered to be transiting Australia and will need to request an exemption from travel restrictions.
Government officials and their dependents
Government officials and their dependents may quarantine at their home or private accommodation as long as they are returning to Australia from official government travel.
Once in Australia, these officials cannot travel on a domestic connecting flight within 14 days of arrival.
These officials must be travelling on an official or diplomat passport to qualify for this exemption.
However, Queensland does require consular employees to quarantine for 14 days in hotel quarantine or other government-organised quarantine.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk banned diplomatic and consular staff returning to the state from overseas in August after a Government contractor entered Queensland on an consular exemption tested positive for coronavirus.
Foreign diplomats
Similarly, foreign diplomats can quarantine for 14 days at their mission or usual place of residence.
This is in line with Australia’s legal obligations under the Vienna Convention to ensure foreign diplomats freedom of movement and travel and protection from detention.
Compassionate or medical exemption
Applications for exemptions on compassionate or medical grounds are taken on a case-by-case basis by states and territories.
The Department of Health says travellers seeking a hotel quarantine exemption need to apply with the relevant state or territory “well before” they travel to Australia.
If you need to travel through multiple states or territories within the quarantine period an exemption must be granted from each of these states or territories.
Aviation crew
Australian air crew arriving in Australia after working on an international flight are exempt from hotel quarantine.
They are required to self-isolate at their home or hotel until their next international flight departs, or for 14 days — whichever is shorter.
These exemptions also apply to medevac and air ambulance crew.
But these exemptions do not apply to Australian air crew arriving internationally as passengers.
Similarly, foreign air crew are not required to enter hotel quarantine but must self-isolate at their hotel until their next flight and use privately organised transport to travel to and from their hotel.
Foreign air crew may fly domestically to their next point of departure from Australia if necessary.
Flight crew of domestic flights are subject to the same quarantine restrictions as the general public.
Maritime crew
Maritime crew are exempt from hotel quarantine, but the conditions of their exemption is a little trickier.
Maritime crew are required to self-isolate for 14-days after leaving their last international port of call. This means that maritime crew can spend their entire self isolation period at sea prior to arriving in Australia as long as no illnesses have been reported on board during that time.
Therefore, maritime crew who have spent longer than 14 days at sea on a commercial vessel, with no illness reported on board, do not need to self-isolate on arrival in Australia.
If maritime crew arrive in Australia within 14 days, they are required to self-isolate at their home for the remainder of the period.
Support staff on maritime vessels, such as livestock handlers and veterinarians, are also considered maritime crew and are subject to the same exemptions.
But these exemptions do not apply to cruise ships.
Also, international maritime crew flying into Australia to join a vessel are not required to undertake hotel quarantine but they must proceed directly to the vessel or self-isolate in their accommodation.
They may travel domestically to reach their vessel, but must self-isolate in their own accommodation during any layover time.
Offshore oil and gas workers
Workers on offshore gas and oil operations are also exempt from hotel quarantine, under the same exemptions as apply to maritime crew.
Travellers from a Safe Travel Zone
The Department of Health website says that travellers arriving in Australia from a Safe Travel Zone country do not need to quarantine as long as they have not been in any other country in the previous 14 days.
Currently this exemption applies to travellers from New Zealand, as New Zealand is the sole country to be designated by Australia as a Safe Travel Zone country so far.
Once you touch down in Australia from New Zealand, you may still be required to undergo health screening.
But in the Safe Travel Zone you will not come into contact with passengers from other countries.
However, according to the Department of Home Affairs, quarantine-free travel from New Zealand is currently only available to NSW, the ACT, NT and Victoria.
If you arrive into any other state you will still be subject to mandatory quarantine.
Once in Australia, travellers are subject to the same social distancing and health guidelines that Australian residents are.

Cyber crime losses exceed $1 trillion: McAfee

Cyber crime costs the global economy over $1 trillion, or just more than 1% of global GDP, a figure which is up more than 50% from a 2018 study that put global losses at close to $600 billion.
This was revealed by a new report by McAfee dubbed “The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime,” which examines the financial and unseen impacts that cyber crime has around the world. The report, conducted in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was compiled from interviews of 1 500 IT and line of business decision makers.
The report explored the damage reported beyond financial losses, finding 92% of companies felt effects beyond monetary losses.
A wider attack surface
Steve Grobman, SVP and CTO at McAfee, says the severity and frequency of cyber attacks on organisations increases as adversaries hone their techniques, new technologies widen the attack surface, and work expands into home and remote environments.
“While industry and government are aware of the financial and national security implications of cyber attacks, unplanned downtime, the cost of investigating breaches and disruption to productivity represent less appreciated high impact costs,” he says.
In SA, organisations had to scramble to establish work-from-home infrastructure for their staff to ensure business continuity through the COVID-19 lockdown, but compared to more developed markets, few company’s security infrastructure was up to the job for this shift,” adds Carlo Bolzonello, country manager for McAfee SA.
“While many managed the shift, they were unwittingly vulnerable to security breaches, whether they were accidental data leaks, private data being maliciously shared by disgruntled employees, or targeted hacks from global crime syndicates. Organisations equipped with a cloud-based advanced threat management solution that offers complete coverage across the attack lifecycle, would have had the ability to prioritise and protect what matters, easily and efficiently,” he adds.
Hidden costs
The report also scrutinised the hidden costs and the lasting impact and damage cyber crime can have on a business, including system downtime, which is a common hazard for around two thirds of respondents’ organisations.
The average cost to organisations from their longest amount of downtime in 2019 was $762 231, and a third of respondents stated IT security incident resulting in system downtime cost them between $100 000 and $500 000.
Another hidden cost emerged as reduced efficiency, as system downtime saw organisations losing, on average, nine working hours a week leading to reduced efficiency. The average interruption to operations was 18 hours.
Then there’s incident response cost. The report highlighted that it took an average of 19 hours for most businesses to move from the discovery of an incident to remediation.
Finally, the report looked at brand and reputation damage and found that the cost of rehabilitating the external image of the brand, working with outside consultancies to mitigate brand damage, or hiring new employees to prevent future incidents is another cost, with 26% saying they had suffered brand damage from the downtime experienced due to an incident.
Ill prepared
Unfortunately, the report also uncovered a lack of organisation-wide understanding of cyber risk, which makes businesses vulnerable to sophisticated social engineering tactics and, once a user is hacked, not recognising the problem in time to stop the spread.
According to the report, 56% of the participants admitted to not having a plan to either prevent or respond to a cyber incident. Out of the 951 organisations that actually had a response plan, only 32% believed the plan was effective.

Who is affected by Japan’s tightened travel controls?

Who is affected by Japan’s tightened travel controls?
Dec 29, 2020 – japan times
Alarmed by the possibility of a new COVID-19 variant wreaking havoc around the world, Japan earlier this week re-imposed strict restrictions on travelers from overseas, barring most nonresident foreign nationals from entering the country.
Almost all countries worldwide are introducing travel restrictions to a certain extent on arrivals from outside their borders.
While the new restrictions have been imposed as a temporary measure until the end of January, technicalities in the revised policy have sparked confusion among new visa applicants and residents of Japan over whether they need to scrap plans to head out from or return to the nation.
Here we aim to clarify the conditions for entry and re-entry to Japan under the new directive.
Who is prohibited from entering Japan?
Under the new directive, nonresident foreign nationals who have yet to obtain landing permission — in the form of either a visa or a certificate of eligibility typically used to obtain a visa — will not be able to enter Japan until after the end of January.
As arrivals under business travel agreements Japan has reached with individual countries are already subject to strict controls, they are not affected by this change.
The government stopped issuing new visas and certificates of eligibility Monday and does not plan to resume until the start of February.
Almost no passengers can be seen in the departures lobby at Narita Airport on Monday. The government imposed new travel restrictions the same day. | KYODO
Amid concerns over the new variant of the novel coronavirus, which is said to be up to 70% more transmissible, nonresident foreign nationals who have stayed in the U.K. or South Africa within 14 days will also be barred from entering Japan, even if they would otherwise be exempt under a business travel agreement.
Who can enter Japan under the new restrictions?
Foreign nationals arriving under business travel agreements or who had already obtained landing permission before Monday will be allowed to enter the country, providing they have not visited the U.K. or South Africa within 14 days. However, those who have obtained landing permission and who are coming from any of the 152 countries or territories covered by the entry restrictions that have been updated since April 2 can enter only until Jan. 3.
Japanese nationals and foreign nationals with valid residence permits will be able to enter Japan whether or not they have visited those countries.
Will arrivals go through more rigorous entry procedures?
Yes. Previously, Japan restricted travel from 152 countries and territories that had been designated at Level 3, the second-highest classification under the nation’s travel advisory system and under which all travel to those locations from Japan is warned against.
With the most recent change, Japan has temporarily expanded that policy and imposed additional quarantine measures on travelers from all countries and regions.
From Dec. 25, all foreign nationals entering from countries and territories that have reported cases of infection with the new strain of the novel coronavirus have also been required to submit a certificate confirming they tested negative for the virus before departing for Japan.
The list of applicable countries has been growing by the day as more report infections involving the new strain. From this week, this condition applies to arrivals from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain, as well as the province of Ontario in Canada. The latest detailed information on regions subject to the new quarantine measures will be published on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
What about business travelers from countries with which Japan had reached business travel agreements?
The restrictions on issuing new landing permission do not apply to travelers arriving under specific business travel agreements Japan has reached with 11 countries and territories to relax travel restrictions. These are: Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
An airport staffer talks to a passenger from Europe on Monday at Narita Airport. | KYODO
But with the change, Japan has temporarily halted its relaxation of quarantine measures for short-term business travelers returning from areas covered by the travel restrictions.
On Nov. 1, Japan began to conditionally exempt residents of Japan who were traveling for work purposes and were planning to spend no more than seven days at their overseas destinations from the 14-day quarantine policy. This regulation will be put on hold until the end of January.
Are foreign residents re-entering Japan subject to tighter entry restrictions than before? And what about Japanese nationals?
Entry restrictions for returning foreign residents have not been tightened. Foreign residents were already subject to strict restrictions upon entry.
Resident foreign nationals seeking to re-enter Japan will continue to be allowed entry under the condition that they undergo a test for the novel coronavirus within 72 hours of their departure for Japan and submit the certification confirming they tested negative when they arrive.
Under the revised policy, the requirement for pre-departure tests for COVID-19 will, for the time being, also apply to Japanese nationals returning from areas where the new variant of the virus has been found. Japanese returnees who are unable to comply will be asked to self-isolate at a designated location for 14 days.
In addition, all returnees from the U.K. and South Africa will need to self-isolate for three days at a designated location, after which they will be required to undergo a test for COVID-19.
Those who test negative will be still required to self-isolate at home for the remaining 11 days of any 14-day quarantine period after arriving in Japan. Returnees from abroad are not allowed to use public transport during the 14-day quarantine period.
Additionally, all returnees who have traveled to the U.K. or South Africa within 14 days of their travel to Japan will be asked to submit a written pledge that they will adhere to quarantine measures during the 14 day period after their return to Japan. The returnees will be required to keep records of their location during that time

Dlamini-Zuma: No changes on international travel, initiation schools to close

JOHANNESBURG – Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Tuesday said that international travel has not changed under the country’s level 3 lockdown.
Briefing the media, the minister said the 18 land borders, which were partially operational, would be fully operational.
She said the 34 land borders, which were closed will remain closed, except for the Kosibay Border Post between South Africa and Mozambique that would reopen on 1 January 2021.
The minister also said initiation schools will have to be closed under the adjusted level 3 lockdown.
She said initiation schools that had already opened prior to the implantation of the country’s level 3 lockdown regulations, would be allowed to continue to operate in order to complete their processes.
However, Dlamini-Zuma said no new initiates may be taken, and celebrations after the initiation are prohibited.
Earlier, Dlamini-Zuma said people could go to restaurants, museums, gyms, casinos, galleries, cinemas, and theatres.
However, the venues must allow a maximum of 50 people only sitting 1.5 metres apart and alcohol is prohibited from being sold.
If the venue cannot accommodate the 1.5 metre distancing, then the number of people allowed inside must be less than 50.
Following Monday night’s address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on developments in relation to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Cabinet ministers are giving more details on the new adjusted regulations.
Dlamini-Zuma is joined by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Police Minister Bheki Cele on Tuesday morning.

A bank in every pocket

Confidence in African digital payment solutions is essential to minimising fraud and corruption while improving the free flow of funds to boost business and economic activity. Their value is illustrated in statistics released by the South African Banking Association (SABRIC) in June 2020.
The report found that digital banking fraud had risen by 20% but that the fraud losses on banking applications had only increased by 1%, despite a significant rise in transactions
Mobile digital payments offer consumers and businesses a convenient method to manage funds, make payments, and gain visibility into accounts and transactions – effectively putting a bank in every pocket. Accessible and reliable, they’re the oil that lubricates the formal and informal economies, enabling financial inclusion at all levels of business and society.
Payment technologies have the potential to open access to financial services for people from all walks of life, and can scale-up with organisations of all sizes.
Micro-enterprises are able to leverage digital payment platforms to receive payments, cut down on cash transactions to reduce cost and risk, improve financial management, and deepen their relationship with formal finance for great access to financial services.
Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from digital payment solutions, increasing access to customers and the ability to reach new markets with eCommerce, reaching remote areas and reshaping how they do business – a particularly relevant step in a pandemic controlled market.
The fraud conundrum
According to Deloitte, COVID-19 has made digitised payments and payment solutions critical, minimising reliance on cash transactions and improving financial inclusion. The report found that around 90% of retail outlets in the financial sector are still using cash exclusively, largely due to issues around friction and cost with cards in remote and rural areas.
The lack of connectivity and the risk of fraud make cards a low priority for these merchants. However, the situation is being shifted somewhat by the arrival of intelligent, digital point-of-sale devices, and mobile payment platforms that allow both merchant and customer to transact using mobile devices.
But, if the mobile payment is made via a card to the account, the cost and friction are only reduced. A mobile, digital card linked solution is better than plastic and will minimise the risk associated with card payments – a risk that SABRIC’s report identified as on the rise by 20.5%.
The problem with legacy is that it is a legacy. All of the main card schemes (Visa, MasterCard, UnionPay; and all of the BigTech, Ant Financial/AliPay, WeChat, Amazon, Facebook, Google et al payment offerings) use super-apps with payments attached to cards that harvest customer data and ultimately dis-intermediate the bank from their customer.
In any card transaction, whether or not it is a virtual, mobile, QR payment experience, customer information travels with the payment and has to be encrypted, decrypted, and re-encrypted. There are two big risks with legacy. Fraud risk where customer information can be compromised, and disintermediation risk where a third party harvests data with the intent to get in between the bank and their customer.
Modern account-rail-based payments use anonymous digital tokens that represent a customer but have no customer data associated with them. The anonymous 20 digital number is unique to each transaction, lives for four minutes or a single-use, and is only associated with the customer’s information inside the bank. This makes compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) and Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standards a moot point and it assures the bank and the consumer that their information is safe, privacy assured.
Undermining the bank and consumer relationship is not a positive disruption. It introduces risk and off-shore dependency in the financial market, and it weakens domestic financial intermediation that is essential for a healthy financial system for domestic economic growth.
Cards and cash can be stolen or faked, but secure anonymous digital transactions are safe because there is no information to steal. Although there are regulations and measures in place to protect consumers and businesses from card fraud, these are often not effective. The risk to consumers inhibits the use and undermines trust in digital payments. The risk to banks is expressed by increased service fees for the payment. These fees are passed on to merchants and built into the cost of goods and services.
With digital account rail-based payment secure solutions, security is baked in. This “zero-knowledge” of customer information in the payment ensures identities are protected for the consumer while ensuring absolute financial transparency of the merchant to the bank.
Unpacking financial equality
The consumer, who was once unbanked or is underbanked and suspicious of traditional forms of electronic banking, is now given the opportunity to experience new ways of paying from any funding source that is account-based – loyalty points, prepaid gift cards, bank accounts, or with funds in a non-bank financial institution.
This benefit is tightly aligned with the SMEs who serve the customer. They can now include value-added services for digitally-empowered clients, which allow them to interact with the business in entirely new ways. SMEs can create digitally accessible discounts, vouchers, and loyalty plans that engage with customers and drive transactions. This increases inclusion adds to a company’s credentials and gives greater room for growth.
Fraud may be endemic in many financial systems, and risk may always be present but, with the right digital payment platform and investment, SMEs and their customers are given protection and privacy over their transactions, increasing confidence and providing a safe and convenient way to pay from any account to any merchant.
The digital transparency provided by the financial institution provides the data and assurance needed to bridge the financial inclusion gap left behind by traditional legacy banking solutions.
A new digital payment system for Africa – independent of foreign legacy and in defence of local financial markets development for everyone.

SA tech startup digitises car wash service

Founded in 2017, My Washbay is a local tech startup that is focused on digitising and reinventing the car wash industry by providing a tech-based service for car wash owners, adding value for its customers.
My Washbay aims to digitise the car wash industry
In an interview with Ventureburn, Prinesh Pillay, founder of My Washbay explains that the startup aims to shake up the car wash industry with technological advancements and tools to enhance the customer experience.
“A large number of car washes are still utilising legacy or manual systems of dealing with their operation, inclusive of reports and customer experience.”
With an app currently in the development stages, My Washbay is currently web-based and offers a unique service for both car wash owners and customers.
The service is currently available in Johannesburg but My Washbay plans to expand its offering nationally and globally.
Benefits for users
As a web-based app, the startup offers the following benefits for customers;
• Cashless payment for car wash services via a secured paygate, reducing contact and supporting social distancing measures during the pandemic
• Use of vouchers to pay for car wash services
• Purchase of car wash service bundles at reduced costs
• Information and access to car events, test drives, and more
• Online notification when the car wash service is complete.
Customers are able to scan a present QR code at the car wash facility to check in their vehicle and payments are made via the app with Zapper digital payment service integrated.
Car wash businesses
Local car wash businesses are able to effectively benefit from the My Washbay services as it offers a comprehensive range of services to transform the traditional methods employed.
Here is a list of benefits for car wash businesses:
• Use of an online dashboard for payments, reducing the possibility of theft as each transaction is recorded
• The platform allows for traffic monitoring
• Implement and offer customers discounts
• Presence on the app, reaching more customers online
A monthly fee is applicable for car wash companies to utilise the service.
Social impact
As a self-funded startup, My Washbay supports autistic individuals secure a form of employment at a car wash through My Washbay’s client network.
A statement on the My Washbay provides further insight into their aims of supporting the disabled.
“Working is really important to the human experience. It is with this in mind that we will aim to deploy people with Autism (not limited to) into our car wash network and a chance to feel empowered through work. Employment rates for the disabled in South Africa have dropped to below 1% and we aim to change this one person at a time.”
The startup liases with its existing car wash network to identify roles suitable for candidates to apply. This system provides employment opportunities for disabled individuals allowing them to improve their quality of life and enter the job market.

Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on progress in the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fellow South Africans,

In just four days from now, we will be ushering in a new year.

This is traditionally a time of festivity and celebrating.

Unfortunately, for us here in South Africa and for others around the world, there is little cause for celebration this year.

Yesterday, we passed the mark of more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases in our country.

Nearly 27,000 South Africans are known to have died from COVID-19.

The number of new coronavirus infections is climbing at an unprecedented rate.

More than 50,000 new cases have been reported since Christmas Eve.

The majority of new cases are emerging in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Infections are also alarmingly on the rise in Limpopo.

Infections are on the rise in part because, as humans, we are social beings and have a need to socialise with one another.

We feel the need to visit friends and family, we attend religious services and we go to parties.

But this is a time of heightened danger in the face of a global pandemic.

Across the world countries are having to take drastic measures to curb new waves of infections.

We will all have heard that there is a new variant of COVID-19 that is now well-established in our country.

As our scientists study this variant – called 501.V2 – and its spread, it appears that it may be more contagious than the virus that drove the first wave of infections.

The rapid rise in infections is being fuelled by so-called super-spreader events, including like end-of-year functions, family and social gatherings, and music and cultural events.

This is a cause for great alarm, and points to an extreme lack of vigilance over the holiday period.

We have let down our guard, and unfortunately we are now paying the price.

We have not been wearing masks.

We are not washing our hands or sanitising.

And we are not keeping a safe distance from others.

We have continued to host and attend social gatherings and events that in many cases flout public health regulations.

As has been the case previously, social gatherings substantially increase the risk of transmission.

Venues are often poorly ventilated and their permitted capacity is being exceeded.

Hand sanitiser is not being used, and masks are being worn to gain entry, only to be taken off once inside.

In these same social gatherings, the consumption of alcohol in restaurants, in nightclubs and taverns has contributed to risky behaviour like not wearing masks and not observing social distancing.

Excessive alcohol consumption is also driving up the number of trauma cases in our hospitals.

According to the data we have, with every relaxation of the restrictions on the sale of alcohol, the number of trauma cases reporting at our hospitals has increased.

These trauma cases are putting an unnecessary strain on our already stretched public health facilities.

Our hospitals, both private and public, are already close to full capacity in a number of provinces, and ICU beds are either full already or rapidly filling up.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, the number of hospitalisations and in-hospital deaths has now surpassed the numbers witnessed in the first surge earlier this year.

Several provinces are hard at work to prepare additional beds, ventilators and oxygen to respond to this increase.

Our frontline healthcare workers, who have put their lives on the line over the past nine months to care for the ill, are becoming infected in higher numbers.

They are exhausted, and they are struggling under the strain of the second wave.

During the month of December, 4,630 public sector health employees contracted COVID-19, bringing the total number infected since the start of the pandemic to over 41,000.

Yesterday, I saw a social media post from a doctor in one of our facilities, which I would like to share with you, because it captures the situation that our health workers face.

He writes:

“Half our consultants have COVID.

“More than half my colleagues had COVID or are currently in quarantine.

“Hospital is FULL. No oxygen points. Private hospitals are FULL. Not accepting more patients. No beds anywhere.

“And this is not yet the peak.

“Guys. We are all going to pay for your inability to be responsible with our LIVES.”

These brave men and women, who have kept our hospitals and clinics open and running through their resilience, courage and professionalism are now at even greater risk than before. They are themselves almost at break point.

They could lose their lives. More families will mourn. All because of our actions, and our failure to take responsibility.

We are at an extremely dangerous point in our fight against the pandemic.

Unless we act now and unless we act decisively, the number of new infections will far exceed what we experienced during the first wave and thousands more people will lose their lives.

On the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, and after consultation with provinces and metro mayors, Cabinet has decided to put the country on an adjusted Level 3 from Level 1 with immediate effect.

Several of the level 3 regulations are being strengthened to further limit the potential for transmission, while doing everything possible to keep the economy open.

We have adjusted the restrictions that will apply at level 3 based on the lessons we have learned through our response to date.

There are four main reasons for this step:

Firstly, we want to minimise the risk of super-spreading events even further. As the number of people with active infections rises, there is a greater risk of an infected person without symptoms being present in a gathering and spreading the virus.

Secondly, we want to decrease unsafe interactions between people.

Thirdly, we want to increase the implementation of our five key prevention measures – social distancing, masks, hand hygiene, symptom-checking and testing.

Fourthly, we want to decrease the burden on health care services so that resources can be directed to meet the needs of COVID-19 and other patients.

Under the adjusted level 3 regulations:

– All indoor and outdoor gatherings will be prohibited for 14 days from the date hereof, except for funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos. These will further be set out by the Minister in regulations and will be reviewed after that period.

– Funerals may not be attended by more than 50 people with social distancing.
– Every business premises must determine the maximum number of staff and customers permitted at any one time based on our social-distancing guidelines and may not exceed that limit.

– The nationwide curfew will be extended from 9pm to 6am. Apart from permitted workers and for medical and security emergencies, nobody is allowed outside their place of residence during curfew.

– Non-essential establishments – including shops, restaurants, bars and all cultural venues – must close at 8pm. The list of these establishments will be released shortly.

We now know that the simplest and most effective way to reduce transmission of the coronavirus is to wear a cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth whenever in public.

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.

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.

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.

We remain particularly concerned about the elderly and those with co-morbidities and ask that they do their utmost to protect themselves from the virus, especially minimising their contact with other people.

One of the more difficult areas of regulation relates to the sale of alcohol.

The liquor industry is a major employer and an important contributor to our economy.

Our priority at this time, however, must be to save lives.

Reckless behaviour due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission.

Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on our hospital emergency units.

As we had to in the early days of the lockdown, we now have to flatten the curve to protect the capacity of our healthcare system to enable it to respond effectively to this new wave of infections.

In such a scenario, every piece of medical equipment, every hospital bed, every healthcare worker, and every oxygen tank is needed to save lives.

Therefore, under the strengthened regulations:

– The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol will not be permitted.

– The prohibition on consuming alcohol in public spaces like parks and beaches remains.

– Distribution and transportation will be prohibited with exceptions that will be explained by the minister.

These regulations may be reviewed within the next few weeks if we see a sustained decline in infections and hospital admissions.

In effect, the adjusted Level 3 regulations will keep the economy open while strengthening measures to reduce transmission.

With a few exceptions, businesses may continue to operate as long as all relevant health protocols and social distancing measures are adhered to.

Night clubs and businesses engaged in the sale and transportation of liquor will not be allowed to operate.

The Level 3 restrictions will remain in place until 15 January 2021.

These measures will be reviewed at that time on the basis of the state of the pandemic in the country.

When I last addressed you, I indicated that in managing the pandemic we would follow a differentiated approach that took into account the rise in infections in particular municipalities.

Municipalities defined as hotspots will be subject to additional restrictions until there is a clear and sustained decline in infections.

Following a review of the latest available data on infections and hospitalisations, and consultations with affected provinces, Cabinet has decided that the following further areas be declared coronavirus hotspots.

In the Eastern Cape, these are Chris Hani District, Buffalo City, Amathole District, Alfred Nzo District and the OR Tambo District. These are in addition to Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Sarah Baartman District, which have already been declared hotspots.

In KwaZulu-Natal, these are eThekwini, Umgungundlovu District, Ugu District, Harry Gwala District, King Cetshwayo District and Ilembe District.

In Gauteng, the West Rand District, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg are declared hotspots.

In the Western Cape, the West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, Cape Town, Central Karoo District are hotspots. This is in addition to the Garden Route District.

In the North West, Bojanala District is declared a hotspot area.

And in Limpopo, the Waterberg District and the Capricorn District are declared coronavirus hotspots.

When I last addressed you we announced that certain beaches in our country would be closed on certain days and others would remain open.

As the infections continue to rise Cabinet on the advice of the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided that all beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed to the public with effect from tomorrow.

National and provincial parks and other parks where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place may remain open to the public.

Those living in the hotspot districts are strongly encouraged to minimise their travel within the district to essential travel so as to minimise contact with other people.

Travel to hotspot districts should be avoided if possible.

The stark reality is that every single district in this country has the potential to become a hotspot unless we observe the current preventative measures.

As we intensify our efforts to prevent further infections, we continue to work to ensure equitable access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

As we have reported before, South Africa is part of the global pooled procurement initiative co-ordinated by Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, commonly known as COVAX.

We can confirm that we have signed off on the agreement with COVAX and the Solidarity Fund has made the initial payment of R283 million to the facility.

We are grateful for the support we continue to receive from the Solidarity Fund across all areas of our COVID response. We should remember that the Solidarity Fund is a multisectoral funded initiative having received funding from government, a number of individual South Africans, various institutions including political parties as well as business corporations.

We are part of the first group of countries that will receive an allocation of vaccines from COVAX. We have been advised that we should expect the vaccines in the second quarter of 2021.

We are also having parallel bilateral discussions with a number of vaccine manufacturers, and will make further announcements once firm agreements are in place.

As a country we need to build a strong partnership between the government and business sector to augment the resources required in financing the additional vaccines necessary to achieve herd immunity.

Engagements to this effect are at an advanced stage and we urge the private sector to continue their participation in this endeavour.

We are working to secure a sufficient supply of vaccines in the shortest possible time to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

Until then, we have no choice but to observe the highest degree of vigilance, and to protect ourselves and others in every way that we can.

We each have a responsibility to wear masks, wash or sanitise our hands, and keep a safe distance from others.

We must remember that this virus is carried through the air, and that we must therefore avoid what has been described as the three Cs – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact with others.

This virus takes advantage of our over-confidence.

Because we feel healthy now, we think we cannot get sick.

Because they seem fine, we believe that nothing bad can happen to our loved ones.

As older people, we think it is okay, we are healthy, so we can still go to big religious services, to funerals and socialise with our friends.

As young people, we may feel strong and invincible, and believe that we are immune to becoming infected because we are young.

As a result, we let down our guard. We take risks.

Many of those who have been infected with the virus, or who have lost their friends and family in recent months, will tell you how much they regret not taking these precautions when they had the chance.

We can only weather this storm if we immediately and fundamentally change our mindsets.

Compliance with the health regulations should not be simply about fearing the wrath of the law.

It should not be about reluctant observance or peer pressure.

This is about common sense.

It is about taking responsibility for our own health and the health of others.

It is about protecting our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our siblings, our children, neighbours and friends.

Wearing a mask is not about your personal choice or your own appetite for risk. Instead, it is about protecting others.

If you wear a mask, and the person next to you does not, then you are not protected.

Only if everyone wears a mask can we protect all of us from infection.

By now, each of us knows someone who has been affected by this pandemic in some way.

There is none among us who can claim we have not heard of anyone becoming ill, or dying. This is a crisis that affects us all.

The sooner we understand that it could very well be us in that ambulance speeding by, or us in that hospital bed, or us being buried at that funeral, the sooner we come to the reality of what we are facing right now.

If we did not understand it before, we should now see just how quickly a situation can change for the worse.

The new year is upon us.

Our children will soon be going back to school.

Places of learning will reopen so we can resume our studies.

We will want to get back to work, to earning, and to looking for work.

We want life to resume.

We all have plans, hopes and dreams for 2021.

Perhaps the greatest of them all is the simplest.

We wish for the new year to bring better health, stability and prosperity for ourselves and our families.

We want it to be better than the year that has passed, and that was filled with such hardship.

This can become our common reality if we return to the spirit of solidarity that we have displayed throughout 2020.

We can and will defeat this pandemic, but only if we each play our part.

If you experience any mild symptoms, such as a fever, a dry cough or tiredness, isolate yourself immediately and cancel any plans that you might have had.

If you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, fever, cough, loss of smell or taste, seek medical attention while minimising contact with others.

Download the COVID Alert SA app and get notified if you have been in contact with someone who tests positive.

The app has already notified many thousands of people of their potential exposure to the virus and has prevented further transmission.

If you have been exposed, quarantine yourself immediately.

I know that most of you have heard this all before.

But I say it again because it is the only way we can keep ourselves and one another safe.

If we all rigorously adhere to basic precautions, we will see an immediate decline in infections and hospital admissions.

This New Year’s Eve will be different to any we have experienced before.

Several South Africans have suggested that we should celebrate the dawn of the New Year it in a different way.

They have suggested that Instead of parties, let us spend time with those closest to us.

There have been a number of suggestions in social media that Instead of fireworks, let us each light a candle.

Let us each light a candle in memory of those who have lost their lives, in tribute to those on the frontline who are working tirelessly to protect us from harm, in appreciation of the great sacrifices that have been made this past year, and in the confidence that the year ahead will bring health, peace and hope to our people.

I will light a candle in Cape Town at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve in memory of those who have lost their lives and in tribute to those who are on the frontline working to save our lives and protect us from harm.

I ask that you join me wherever you are in this very important symbolic gesture.

Let us continue to work as one nation, united and determined.

We have done it before. We can do it again.

There will come a day when this pandemic will be over.

On that day, we must be able to look one another in the eye and say: ‘We gave it our all, we each played our part, we worked together as one nation, and we prevailed.’

May God Bless South Africa and protect her people.

I thank you.