GroundView: There is no scientific basis for the 12am to 4am curfew

Curfew could be reinstated if hospital beds start running out

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Johannesburg at night. Photo: Nico Roets via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

There is no scientific basis for the continued 12am to 4am curfew. It should be ended. The third wave is over and this restriction does not mitigate the Covid pandemic. If Covid hospitalisations start ticking up again, a temporary curfew may be reinstated.

While most people are happy to be asleep or at least in their homes during the curfew hours, sometimes some people want to be out in the early hours of the morning, and there is no reasonable justification for the state forbidding it.

The curfew may seem at worst a minor inconvenience but it’s a slippery slope when the state gets away with restricting rights without good reason. Today the state — wrongly — claims to have a curfew as a public health measure. Tomorrow it could be to stop political protests.

To be clear: We are not expressing our concern from an anti-lockdown position. We supported the need for a lockdown when it was called in March 2020 (though it was over-zealous and too long). If we have a fourth wave with substantially increasing mortality, restrictions may indeed be necessary again for a temporary period. Alcohol restrictions plus curfew can be justified when hospital beds are at risk of reaching capacity, but this is not currently the situation.

Also, lockdown regulations are poorly enforced anyway and it erodes the state’s authority when it makes laws it does not enforce. Let’s rather have fewer regulations, properly justified, that are actually enforced.

We continue to support public health measures such as wearing masks in indoor places where the public gathers, such as stores, cinemas, sporting events, transport and religious services. Stores should implement proper physical distancing. These measures should be better enforced.

But when the epidemic is in a mostly dormant phase, as it is currently, the curfew is an unnecessary restriction on our rights. It should go.

TOPICS:  Covid-19

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

Whilst there may be no effect on COVID transmission by imposing a curfew, the merits are more extensive than that. A curfew coupled with restrictions on alcohol sales is a Godsend for the country's emergency departments. Late night and early morning are when we see the most alcohol-related violent episodes and motor vehicle accidents.

I, for one, would welcome a permanent curfew coupled with restrictions on alcohol sales over weekends and public holidays. Your editorial is short-sighted and ignores the many other benefits of a curfew.

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