Are you finding it difficult to stay at home all the time? Being in lockdown means that our freedom to move around wherever we want to has been severely limited. These restrictions have been put in place to stop the spread of the virus but it doesn’t make them easy to live with. At first, during Level 5 restrictions, we were really not allowed to move anywhere except to food shops, pharmacies and to visit health practitioners but things have changed a little bit in Level 4.
How do I get back home or to work from another city or province?
Some people chose to move away from the town or city where they either work or live to spend the lockdown in a different place. Some people even got stuck in a different province and weren’t allowed to go back home when the lockdown started.
If you are one of these people, you have been given a very short period of 7 days (beginning on 1 May and ending on the 7 May) to travel back home. Your only options for transport are either a taxi or bus (which can only be 70% full), or a car with no more than 3 people in it. You must wear a mask.
You may well get stopped by roadblocks on the way, but the regulations allow you to travel this one time. Unfortunately, you can’t drive someone home and then drive back yourself – that counts as two trips!
You do not need a permit for this once-off trip.
How can I travel before or after curfew?
The curfew introduced on the 1 May means that all people living in South Africa can only leave their homes after 5am and they must return by 8pm. If you need to leave home outside of these hours you will need a special permit. This will be issued to you if you are an essential service worker.
The only exceptions to this is for someone who is attending to either a security or a medical emergency.
In order to get a permit, you and the institution that employs you will need to fill in the required form which includes your identification details. You will also need to carry some form of identification (ID book or Driver’s Licence) with you at all times.
Restaurants and fast food outlets have to close at 7pm. The reason for this is to give people time to get home before the evening curfew begins.
Am I allowed to go wherever I want to during the day?
Unfortunately, not! You are only allowed to leave home if you are performing an essential service or your place of work has been allowed to reopen. You are also allowed to go to the shops to buy permitted items, collect social grants or for medical purposes. You need, though, to go to a place as close to your home as possible. In other words, if you want to buy food, then you have to go to a shop reasonably close to home – you can’t travel half-way across town to another shop!
Can I walk around during the day?
You are allowed to walk, run or cycle from 6am to 9am These are the restrictions on physical exercise that started on the 1 May. After 9am, you will need to either stay at home or use transport to move around.
You are also not allowed to exercise in parks, beaches, mountains under the control of the National Parks Board and in sports grounds.
You aren’t allowed to gather in groups to exercise and you need to wear a mask at all times.
What are the regulations around public transport?
• No public transport can operate outside the curfew hours of 5am to 8pm.
• Everyone needs to wear a mask.
• Public transport vehicles need to be sanitised daily.
• Minibus taxis may only carry 70% of their normal load.
• Other taxis such as Uber may only carry 50% of their normal passengers.
• Cars may only carry 3 people; the driver and 2 passengers.
• Buses will only be able to carry 70% of their loaded licence capacity and social distancing measures must be enforced.
• Shuttle services taking people to permitted work can only carry 50% of their normal load.
• All passenger air and sea travel is banned (except for permitted repatriation flights bringing South Africans back from other countries).
• Local trains will gradually begin running again but no long distance trains will be allowed.
• No long distance taxis or buses are allowed.
Can I go to a funeral in another province or district?
Yes. This is the only exception to long distance travel (other than the transport of goods and essential services).
You will need to get a permit allowing you to travel across provinces. In order to get this permit, you will need to take the death certificate (or certified copy) to a magistrate or to a police station commander. You also need to be a relative of the person who has died. Funerals are limited to 50 people and night vigils are banned.
We have become so used to being able to go wherever we want to. It is so difficult to force ourselves to restrict our movements. I always try to remember that these restrictions are in place to save lives. The coronavirus spreads so quickly that it is only by limiting our movements that we can limit the virus. It is true to say that the virus doesn’t move on its own – it only moves when people move.