In a bid to keep the Covid-19 curve flat in South Africa during level-4 lockdown, the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, this week announced stricter transport laws
The government line remains that unless it’s essential for your survival, you may still not venture out of your home. However, new regulations released this week specify that no vehicles – either private or public transport – are allowed on the roads outside of the designated 05h00 to 20h00 timeframe. Initially a grace period of one hour, to 21h00, was allowed, but this has since been revoked.
Newly gazetted changes to the regulations state that public transport; including minibus taxis, can only operate from 05h00 to 19h00 only, with no mention of a grace period; once again insisting the driver must ensure the drop off is completed by 19h00.
After the first Security Cluster briefing on Covid-19 lockdown transport regulations back on Wednesday 25 March, the limiting of movement of the public has been eased, with certain sectors of the economy allowed to travel freely within their province if in possession of the correct. government permit.
Nevertheless the only way to stop the spread of coronavirus unknowingly is to adhere to social-distancing practices. If you are not in possession of a level-4 permit you may still only travel by car to access essential services. These include seeking medical care, buying groceries, accessing banking services, getting petrol and collecting a social grant.
Don’t try and sneak around. Just don’t do, it’s not worth it. There are roadblocks on major highways and thoroughfares and if caught without a permit you could be punished with a fine, prison time or both. And being home with a touch of cabin fever is far better than facing a hefty fine and dealing with cabin fever in prison.
As it was in full level-5 lockdown, the sale and distribution of alcohol and cigarettes is still strictly prohibited. It is illegal to transport alcohol anywhere else and you can be guaranteed there will be random checks during lockdown.
As before, Uber and other e-hailing services are permitted, as well as shuttle and chauffeur services. Operators need to regularly sanitise their vehicles – before each pick up and drop off. Taxis must supply hand sanitiser (with a minimum of 60% alcohol content) to passengers and the operator must encourage passengers to santise their hands.
Only three people including the driver are allowed in a five-seater vehicle, and four people are permitted in a seven-seater vehicle and six in a ten-seater. Minibus taxis are not allowed more than 70% of their maximum licensed passenger carrying capacity. Everyone – including the driver, marshall and passengers must wear clothface masks or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth.
Those people using public transport to collect social grants need to have their ID documents and SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) cards on them to help law officials as they assist with lockdown measures.
Remember the golden rule, whatever the level of Covid-19 lockdown: Unless it’s essential for survival to venture out of the house, stay at home. This is an unprecedented first for all of us, and only by acting together can we overcome. Stay safe.