NATIONAL NEWS - Members of the National Coronavirus Command Council, as led by Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, offered a detailed briefing from Pretoria on the regulations that will be gazetted tomorrow on the Covid-19 level 4 restrictions.
The biggest surprises from the briefing was government’s bombshell backtracking on the sale of all tobacco products.
They also for some reason would still not allow the sale of books (except for “educational books”), lumping them in with the other forbidden fermented fruit, alcohol.
Dlamini-Zuma started the briefing by reminding the public that the lockdown will not be ending, but merely be eased using a risk-adjusted strategy.
She said they had received more than 800 submissions from the business sector, along with thousands of responses from the general public, and she thanked them for the engagement.
One of the most popular submission topics was on exercise, with more than 22,000 people submitting something on exercise.
“We still want people to be at home. You can only leave home to go to work or perform a level 4-allowed activity. You can go out to do your shopping."
The minister said that children would now be allowed to move between parents in co-parenting arrangements.
Live-in domestic workers would also be allowed again.
As a general point, people able to work from home would continue to be encouraged to do so.
She explained that cycling, running and walking would be allowed, but it would have to be within a 5km radius of one’s home, and not in organised groups. It would only be allowed between 6am and 9am.
In the evenings, since more people would be going to work, when they finished at work they would have to go home. No socialising would be allowed at all.
“It is not a licence to visit friends and relatives. Between 8pm and 5am, if you do not have a permit to be out, you have to be at home.”
People working between provinces would need a permit to be allowed to cross provincial borders. The same would be needed for those attending schools in other provinces. Movement between provinces would still not be generally allowed, except for funeral attendance, according to the same guidelines that were in place during level 5.
Government would further allow for only a once-off movement for people wanting to move from one province to another if they found themselves stuck away from home or their province of work because of the initial lockdown.
Dlamini-Zuma then emphasised the need for companies hoping to operate during the epidemic to be “Covid ready” by observing all the guidelines, since if workers started being infected at work, the facility would have to be closed down for deep cleaning and investigation.
“Have a proper plan for the workers and everybody that you can keep in the workplace so that they know what the measures are that each company is going to take. If those measures are not adhered to there can be an alarm.”
This would also allow government to monitor that companies were adhering to their own policies.
Borders would remain closed except for very exceptional circumstances such as the repatriation of South Africans. They would still be quarantined for 14 days on arrival. Only the movement of goods in and out of the country could be generally allowed.
She said items being transported to ports for export would also be allowed.
“All agricultural products, and other things we produce for exports, are now allowed to move to the ports to be exported. Things that are coming from the ports that are allowed for level 4 can now be transported around the country.”
People would still not be allowed to be evicted during this time, but Dlamini-Zuma said this was not a licence for people to occupy buildings or land illegally.
More public transport
“In terms of public transport, there will be taxis as they are now, private cars as they are now, e-hailing as they are now… but because more people will be going to work there will be buses and trains, but under strict conditions.”
Restaurants and takeaways will be able to deliver food to the homes of customers, but no sit-down meals will be allowed, and customers will not be allowed to go and pick up food.
“Alcohol is not allowed yet in level 4.”
All venues normally associated with public gatherings would still have to be closed.
No cigarettes and booze
Dlamini-Zuma said they had received a lot of opposition (from more than 2,000 people) to reopening the sale of cigarettes. Government had therefore changed its mind since the weekend and decided to keep the ban on cigarette and all tobacco product sales in place because smoking was not just unhealthy but also a social activity and people sometimes shared cigarettes.
She said she was worried about “the sharing of zol” as saliva could be moved from person to person.
Dlamini-Zuma defended the alcohol ban again by pointing out that the lack of inebriated people was limiting people gathering, and was keeping them out of emergency rooms with the usual stabbings, beatings and shootings, especially on weekends.
No hairdressers or books
The minister said although they had received a lot of requests for hairdressers to be allowed to open, she said it would not be possible and she advised people to keep trying to perfect their own hairdressing skills and try to cut their own hair.
A number of submissions were made for the sale of books to be allowed again, especially as there was a plea from publishers for the local industry to be saved, but government appears not to have heeded this and still only allows the sale of magazines and newspapers, but not books.
There would be an expansion of licensing, municipal, home affairs, enforcement officers, IEC and other bodies.
Electricians, plumbers, pest control, waste removal is still there. “What we have reopened now is recycling. The informal recyclers will be allowed to work.”
Counselling services would also be allowed.
She said the education departments would still need to “decide on what needs to be done” but that discussion had not yet been completed.
“Let me say again, briefly, that level 4 does not mean the lockdown is ended. Stay in your home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from other people.”