h Africa will move back to level 3 with immediate effect from midnight, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.
The president said that decision was made on the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council and consultations with provinces and metro mayors.
He said that several of the level 3 regulations were being strengthened to further limit the potential transmission of the virus while doing everything possible to keep the economy open.
Ramaphosa said that the restrictions that applied to level 3 had been adjusted based on the lessons learned to date and would be in place until 15 January 2021.
Under the new regulations, the wearing of a cloth mask in public is now mandatory. If a person is caught not wearing a mask, on conviction they are liable for a fine or be imprisoned for up to six months or be fined and imprisoned.
Curfew has also been extended and will now be in force from 9pm to 6am. Only permitted persons will be allowed to be outside their places of residence during the curfew. Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, must now close at 8pm.
With the exception of funerals, restaurants, museums, gyms and casinos, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited. A maximum of 50 people are allowed to attend funerals and there must be social distancing.
The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol will not be permitted, while the ban on drinking alcohol in public spaces like parks and beaches remains.
The distribution and transportation of alcohol will be prohibited with exceptions, which will be explained by the minister.
Ramaphosa said that there were four main reasons for the move back to level 3 – government wanting to minimise the risk of super-spreader events; wanting to decrease unsafe interactions between people; to increase the implementation of the five key prevention measures – social distancing, wearing of masks, hand hygiene, symptom checking and testing – and decreasing the burden on healthcare services so that resources could be directed to meet the needs of COVID-19 and other patients.