Coronavirus

Lockdown explained by government, Part 4: Basic movements

By Rebecca Davis 25 March 2020
Caption
Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on October 01, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Jaco Marais/Foto24/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

In what is expected to be the final press briefing before the onset of South Africa’s national lockdown, Cabinet ministers from the security cluster attempted to clarify some of the many questions around what basic movements the public will be permitted.

Which places will be closed to the public during lockdown?

All religious, cultural, sporting and entertainment venues, shopping malls, bus depots, train stations, airports, parks, beaches and swimming pools, open-air markets. No restaurants are allowed to be open, and restaurants cannot run delivery or takeaway services. All hotels and accommodation services will also be closed unless they are required to keep housing tourists who are currently self-isolating.

Can I buy alcohol during the lockdown?

No. No bars or liquor stores will be open, and supermarkets will not be permitted to sell booze. Police Minister Bheki Cele said: “For 21 days, please stay sober.”

If you plan on stocking up on alcohol on your last available day to do so – Thursday 26 April – be aware that some supermarkets have already placed limits on how much can be purchased by each consumer.

Will cigarettes be sold during lockdown?

There is some uncertainty on this point, but smokers should prepare for the possibility that cigarettes will not be able to be sold.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said that shops will not be able to sell anything other than food and basic goods, and he clarified that cigarettes were not considered basic goods.

Can I leave my house to take a jog, or walk my dog?

No. There has been unfortunate confusion around this point because on Wednesday morning Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the SABC that this would be allowed.

It was subsequently explained that ministers had since met and decided that this issue was a “distraction” and should not be permitted. No jogging, no dog-walking outside your property.

What services will Home Affairs continue to provide during lockdown?

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that only three services would be performed by a skeleton staff during lockdown: the provision of temporary IDs to those who lose them, the issuing of replacement (lost) birth certificates and the issuing of death certificates. Everything else will have to wait for after lockdown.

What should I do if my local shop is charging unreasonably high prices for basic goods?

The government is actively pursuing companies engaging in price-gouging at this time. The public is asked to report abnormal pricing by phoning 0800 014-880 or 084 743-0000.

What role will soldiers from the SANDF be playing?

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that soldiers would be assisting with roadblocks, road closures, and “cordon and search”.

She said that despite photographs circulating of soldiers in unusual areas, official deployment has not yet happened. Currently, soldiers are only moving into place.

Can funerals still be held during lockdown?

Yes, but Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma warned that numbers have to be restricted to 50 people. Police Minister Bheki Cele said this number might still be further reduced. The holding of night vigils is prohibited.

What public transport will still be running during lockdown?

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said there will be no air travel or train travel, and buses will be reserved for purposes like transporting Eskom workers.

Minibus taxis will be allowed to transport essential service workers from 5am to 9am and again from 4pm to 8pm, but may only carry 50% of their usual passenger load and have to be sanitised between trips. People who live in remote areas and need to travel to buy food may also use these taxis.

Uber and e-hailing services may be used to transport essential service workers, and to travel to buy basic goods or seek medical help.

I have booked a driver’s licence test during the lockdown period. What happens?

It will be postponed until after lockdown.

What happens to South Africa’s border posts at midnight tomorrow?

They close, including the Beit Bridge border with Zimbabwe. Only essential goods can pass through: for instance, people transporting medicine will be allowed through.

I am divorced from my spouse but share custody. Can my children move between their parents?

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu indicated that the government is aware of this problem and has sympathy for parents, but it is unclear whether a solution will be able to be found.

Said Zulu: “We have to deal with what happens there… Movement itself is a problem, and therefore the movement of children is difficult.”

Will there be restrictions on the number of people allowed into stores at one time?

Quite possibly, because DTI Minister Patel stressed that there has to be a distance of at least 1m between customers.

Where should I go to buy food?

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola stressed that you are permitted to buy food at the shop closest to your home. For this reason, residents of townships are encouraged to use spaza shops.

Lamola said that only if what you need to purchase is unavailable at the closest shop should you move to a more distant shop – and you “must be able to explain that in case the police meet you along the way”.

Will supermarkets maintain normal hours?

Ministers Patel and Mbalula both said that the government would be talking to supermarkets about the possibility of opening earlier in order to match the times when minibus taxi travel is permitted in the mornings.

What if crime spikes during the lockdown?

“Rest assured there will be less crime,” Police Minister Cele said.

“Criminals themselves will fall within the net placed there by law enforcement agencies.”

What if police or the military are heavy-handed in enforcement of the lockdown regulations?

Cabinet ministers were largely dismissive of this possibility, with Cele saying: “We will deal with our rogues.”

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said, with regards to the conduct of soldiers:

“It will only be skop, skiet en donder when circumstances determine that. For now, we’re a constitutional democracy. We do understand that our obligations are in terms of the constitution. Our soldiers understand the circumstances under which they are being deployed.”

Will delivery services still work?

Courier services will operate for essential goods.

What happens if my driver’s licence expires during the lockdown period?

You will not be penalised, and after the lockdown you will have a 14-day grace period to renew it. DM

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