Wednesday | 25 March | 2020
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
At midnight on 26 March, virtually the entire South Africa will come to a standstill. From Friday morning there should be almost no cars on the roads, apart from employees of essential services. First of all we want to thank these people. Thank you for making a huge sacrifice by spending time away from your loved ones and exposing yourselves. You are heroes and heroines. Your sacrifice is making an enormous difference in the life of every South African.
Solidarity asks every person during the national lockdown who is not part of essential services to stay at home as far as possible in order to minimise the spread of the virus, but also to facilitate the work of emergency service staff. The responsibility rests on every person and family. Live future-oriented by applying the necessary measures today!
The national lockdown was announced to delay the spread of the new COVID-19.
Finer detail on how the lockdown is going to work are made known from time to time. The government is still dealing with the logistical implementation of the new restrictions.
What we know about the lockdown so far
All restaurants, bars and coffee shops will be closed – including food delivery services.
The Department of Tourism has confirmed that food delivery services such as Uber Eats and Mr Delivery as well as restaurants have to close for the national lockdown. According to the department, essential services do not include restaurants, bars, cafes and coffee shops and therefore they will be closed during this period. All other food services will also be closed.
You will not be allowed to go for a jog or take your dog for a walk
In other countries provision has been made for jogging near one’s home or other outdoor exercises, which should be done with great care and responsibility to avoid contact with other people. Governments of some countries are even encouraging outdoor exercise as a mental health measure. Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that South Africans will not be allowed outdoors unless for reasons as approved in the regulations.
You may not buy alcohol for 21 days
According to Police Minister Bheki Cele no alcohol will be sold during national lockdown period and you will not be allowed to transport alcohol at all.
Offenders convicted of this offence will be fined or sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Wednesday that cigarettes are not regarded as an essential product and as such no one can go to the shops for cigarettes only. However, if you happen to be in a shop to buy basic items and cigarettes are available you will probably be able to buy cigarettes. (At the time of publication exact information on this was not yet available.)
You may use Uber and taxi service but only during these times
Taxis and Uber services may only be operated from 05:00 to 09:00 and then again from 6:00 to 20:00. People will be allowed to use these services to buy food, get medicine or for other essential services.
Half the number of passengers will be allowed per vehicle. This means that a vehicle normally carrying four passengers may only carry one passenger, while the other is the driver. In the case of a vehicle that can carry eight passengers only three passengers may now be carried.
You will be able to shop (only essential items) and to get medical care.
The travel restrictions do not apply to shopping. You will still be able to buy groceries and to buy and pick up medication at pharmacies.
The general call to use only urgently needed medical services still applies. General health service providers will continue making their normal services available to the public.
You will be able to take your pet to the vet.
The government has confirmed that services by veterinarians will continue. Buying pet food will probably fall under the same regulations as buying groceries.
ATMs and bank branches will be open and cash will be available.
According to Ebrahim Patel, minister of trade and industry, banks will coordinate and share resources to ensure that cash will be available at ATMs and at branches.
Harvests and livestock auctions will continue.
According to Thoko Didiza, minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, specific measures will be instituted to ensure that food production and imports will continue.
Livestock auctions will be allowed to continue, but there will be restrictions on the number of people attending these auctions. Harvesting will continue and so will importing agricultural products.
What businesses will be open?
During his speech, Ramaphosa said the following businesses will be open:
- Essential financing systems such as the JSE
- Filling stations
- Healthcare providers
- Companies involved in manufacturing or distributing food, basic goods and medical supplies
Provision also has to be made for the transportation of essential workers during this period.
Travel is restricted for all except for people in the following occupations:
Only workers who are critically important are allowed to travel.
The official list of workers has not yet been published, but Ramaphosa did mention the following people:
- Essential service workers
- Health workers (in the private and public sectors)
- Those in the production, supply and distribution of food and other basic goods
- Security services, including police, soldiers and traffic officers
- People maintaining water, electricity and similar systems
- Those working in essential banking systems
The following persons were added later by Ebrahim Patel, minister of trade and industry:
- Safeguarding property, such as private security guards
- Those looking after the aged and sick people, also at homes for the aged
- Employees in offices dealing with salary and wage payments
- People transporting food, fuel and other basic goods between SADC countries.
Guidelines and other regulations will be published as soon as they become available.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.