No dog-walking, no alcohol sold during lockdown
South Africans will not be allowed to walk their dogs, order food from a restaurant or buy alcohol during the 21-day national lockdown to try to contain the spread of Covid-19, police minister Bheki Cele said yesterday.
The lockdown is intended to curb local transmission of the virus, which has spread to all nine provinces.
As of yesterday, the total number of reported cases stood at 709, with 319 cases in
Gauteng. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country will go into the lockdown from midnight today until April 16.
South Africans and businesses have been unsure about what they can and cannot do since the announcement.
“There is no need to be on the road, no need to move around,” Cele said yesterday during a briefing by the justice cluster ministers on lockdown regulations.
“There was a little bit of a story that you can walk your dogs. There shall be no dogs walked; it doesn’t enhance the call made by the president.
“Walk your dog around the house. It … does not go beyond that,” he said.
Government officials gave contradictory messages yesterday about movement during the lockdown.
In an interview with the SABC earlier in the day, health minister Zweli Mkhize said dog owners and joggers would be allowed to hit the streets during the lockdown.
“There shouldn’t be a problem with that,” he said.
But mere hours later Cele said it would not be allowed.
After Cele’s announcement, Mkhize said that when he had answered the question about being able to jog or walk dogs, he had said it was in line with the government’s thinking.
“But we saw the distraction it caused … it does not add any value to the lockdown,” he said.
Cele read through a list of prohibitions during the lockdown.
He said all restaurants and food outlets would be closed.
Food can only be bought at supermarkets that will remain open.
“You buy food from these outlets and go and cook at home,” the police minister said.
Cele also announced that no alcohol would be sold in the next three weeks.
Hospitals needed as many empty beds as possible to prepare for the worsening of the pandemic, and if people were not drinking alcohol there would be fewer accidents and less violence, he said.
“For 21 days please stay sober,” Cele said.
He said anyone who fails to adhere to the regulations could face up to six months in prison, a fine or both.
“It is not a fairy tale to say the law will act and it will act very harshly on you. We hope to work together here,” Cele said.
The police minister said other areas that would be closed included public parks, beaches, public swimming pools, nightclubs, shebeens, taverns, casinos, hotels, lodges and guesthouses.
Addressing a media briefing
in Pretoria yesterday afternoon, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said the minibus taxi industry, which transports 16.5-million passengers a day, would only be allowed to transport essential service workers during the 21-day lockdown period.
All rail services had been halted, he said.
The transport ministry said it would maintain a “skeleton staff” for purposes of safe road operations, clearing of accidents, maintenance of tunnels as well as road traffic enforcement.
Mbalula said taxis that have been financed by National Taxi Finance and administered by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency would be granted a three-month “repayment holiday”, adding that commercial banks were considering similar measures.
According to the regulations, metered taxis and e-hailing providers such as Uber and Bolt would be allowed to transport essential service workers.
Operators need to put measures in place to adhere to social-distance norms to curb the coronavirus spread.
All minibus and metered taxis and e-hailing providers must be sanitised after each trip, while taxi ranks needed to be sanitised at regular intervals.
Mbalula said these services will be permitted from 5am to 9am and from 4pm to 8pm every day during the lockdown period.
Vehicles licensed to carry up to four passengers would be permitted to carry one passenger, while those licensed to would carry up to eight passengers would be allowed to carry a maximum of three passengers. The transport minister said limited bus operations would be allowed only for rendering essential services, and all cross-border road passenger movements would be prohibited for the duration of the lockdown.
“Cross-border freight movement for essential goods will continue to and from our neighbouring countries.”
All long-distance passenger rail services, both public and private, will stop operations for the duration of the lockdown.
The services of Shosholoza Meyl, Premier Classe, and the Blue Train have already been suspended, while Metrorail and the Gautrain will cease operations when the lockdown begins.
All international and domestic flights are prohibited, irrespective of risk category of country of origin, and only essential cargo will be allowed. Cargo from high-risk countries will be sanitised.
Comair, the operator of low-cost carrier kulula.com, will suspend flights from today to April 19.
National carrier SAA said it would suspend domestic flights. The service will resume on April 17.
SAA last week suspended its international flights until May 31.
Mbalula said the ban on cruise ships announced last week would continue for the duration of the three-week lockdown, and only essential cargo will be allowed at SAs ’ eight seaports.
Vehicle testing centres and driver’s licence testing centres would be closed.
“Should your driver’s licence expire during the duration of the lockdown it shall be deemed to remain valid until the end of the lockdown, with the grace period of renewal within 14 working days thereafter unless otherwise determined,” Mbalula said.