Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has visited George in the Garden Route as part of assessments for possible further restrictions in the region to curb the spread of COVID-19. He was joined by his provincial counterpart Nomafrench Mbombo and other government officials.

The Garden Route is one of three major hotspots mentioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his latest address to the nation. Restrictions have already been put in place in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro regarding curfews and alcohol sales.

President Cyril Ramaphosa updates the nation on progress in the fight against coronavirus: 

The Southern Cape has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks, with George of most concern. In response, the Minister engaged with municipal officials and other role players, and also visited health facilities.

Minister Mkhize says the assessments will be discussed with the Coronavirus Command Council before decisions about further restrictions will be made.

“The trading hours with alcohol, curfews, then there’s also been a concern because at this point there’s a lot of movement between EC (Eastern Cape) and WC (Western Cape), what needs to be done, how to screen people so that we manage the situation. All of that is something that needs to be properly discussed.”

Public facilities have already been closed in George, with a ban on large gatherings:

Mkhize says visitors are still welcome in the area, as long as they follow safety regulations.

“We can’t stop people from moving. People can continue to visit. There’s nothing that says stop visiting such a district, so there’s no lockdown that stops anyone. But what we are saying is there has to be an understanding that each one has to act responsibly.”

The minister has reiterated that the virus cannot be defeated in hospitals, but only with the cooperation of communities. He also mentioned that while a vaccine will probably be available in the country from next year, citizens should never become complacent and always ensure they wear a mask, follow a safe social distance and wash or sanitise their hands regularly.