The South African government is enforcing strict rules on public premises such as bars and pubs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These institutions may no longer operate past 6pm on weekdays.

In the latest Government Gazette, a number of rules have been put in place to govern how on-consumption premises operate.

“All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must be closed with immediate effect, or must accommodate no more than 50 persons at any time – provided that adequate space is available and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure to persons with COVID-19, are adhered to,” reads the Gazette.

The on-consumption premises that remain open must close between 6pm and 9am the following day on weekdays and Saturdays, and from 1pm till 9am the following day on Sundays and public holidays.

No applications for liquor licences will be granted during the national state of disaster.

“Any person who permits more than 50 persons at premises where liquor is sold and consumed; or hinders, interferes with, or obstructs an enforcement officer in the exercise of his or her powers, or the performance of his or her duties in terms of these Regulations, is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment, ” reads the Gazette.

If any groups of 100 or more people are seen by law enforcement, they are within the law to disperse the gathering as though it were a protest.

Those found guilty of spreading fake news about the coronavirus will also be liable for a fine or imprisonment.

The Gazette also stipulates that no one who has been confirmed to have COVID–19, no one who is suspected of being COVID–19 positive and no one that has come into contact with someone who is COVID–19 positive may refuse enforcement officers orders for testing, admission to a health establishment or isolation site, or mandatory treatment.

“Provided that if a person does not comply with the instruction or order of the enforcement officer, that person must be placed in isolation or quarantine for a period of 48 hours, as the case may be, pending a warrant being issued by a magistrate, on application by an enforcement officer for the medical examination contemplated in paragraph.”

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