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Coronavirus dos and don'ts: 26 March

As South Africa prepares to go into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, these are the points to remember as you do your bit to help flatten the curve.

Picture: 123rf

CAPE TOWN - As South Africa prepares to go into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, these are the points to remember as you do your bit to help flatten the curve.

BY THE NUMBERS

• The confirmed number of COVID-19 infections in SA now stands at 927 – that’s a jump of 209 cases from Wednesday. The curve now is very steep and this is a very serious situation.
• Gauteng still has the bulk of the confirmed infections with 409 confirmed cases, followed by the Western Cape with 229 and KZN with 134.
• The president is not among the infected though – Cyril Ramaphosa got tested and his results came back negative.

Picture: EWN

CLARIFICATION ON CIGARETTES

• On Wednesday night, during the security cluster briefing, Minister Ebrahim Patel said you would not be able to buy cigarettes during the lockdown. It seems that perhaps he didn’t quite mean that exactly.
• Western Cape Premier Alan Winde spoke on Thursday morning to try and clarify this, saying basically it’s an issue of practicality – that cigarettes will be sold but you can’t go to the shops just to buy cigarettes – if it’s part of your shopping for basics, you will still be able to buy them.

GALLERY: Aerial view of South Africans queuing for goods before lockdown

HOW WILL LOCKDOWN AFFECT MY LIFE?

• Starting today, you have to stay home.
• You can leave to buy groceries or medicine or to go to your doctor.
• If you are stopped and asked why you are out, you need to explain.
• Shop at the shop closest to you, if you don’t find what you need there, go to the next nearest shop.
• You will only be able to buy foodstuffs and other items listed as essential – so you won’t be able to buy clothes or homeware at your local Woolies superstore.
• Government will keep supply lines open, grocery shops will remain open – government is working with retailers and food and essential goods producers to ensure supplies reach the shops.
• The Police Minister was very clear - you won’t be able to buy booze during the lockdown at all. Anywhere. You are not even allowed to move a six-pack to your neighbour’s home.
• No jogging, no dog walking, no exercise, no leaving your home at all unless you are going to the shops for essentials, to the doctor, or to the pharmacy.
• If you have an elderly or vulnerable relative you can take food to them or take them to the doctor (that’s included in the regulations), but if you are stopped and asked why you are out, you will need to explain.
• Minister Lindiwe Zulu is requesting that children remain with the primary custody holder, and that they only be moved under exceptional circumstances but they have yet to define what constitutes an exceptional circumstance. Basically, no children should be moved for the duration of the lockdown.
• If you rely on public transport or metered taxis and e-hailing services to get you to the shops or the doctor, they will only be available and allowed to transport people and essential services workers between 5am to 9am and from 4pm to 8pm.
• They will have to be comprehensively sanitised after every trip – only one passenger in a four-person car; only 3 passengers in an 8-person vehicle.
• Uber says there will be no surge pricing during the lockdown. It’s clarified that Ubers can only be used to obtain an essential good or service (grocery/medicine shopping) or for rendering an essential service (eg. getting to work if you are an essential worker, or taking food to a vulnerable person eg. an elderly parent who can’t go out).
• UberX, UberGO, UberBLACK, UberASSIST, UberVIP – maximum of 1 passenger; UberXL – maximum of 2 passengers; UberVan – maximum of 3 passengers.
• UberEats will not be operating during the lockdown.
• If you’re wondering how many people you can transport in your own vehicle – that’s probably a fair comparison.
• Please note: government has not made rules on every single thing. They are trusting citizens to take this seriously and to be sane. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. Don’t pack your whole family in the car and take them shopping. The point is to minimise contact as much as possible. Stay home.

Places and premises closed to the public:
• Any place normally open to public where religious cultural recreational activities take place (that means churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, community centres, sporting facilities etc).
• Any shops where goods other than essential goods are sold (eg. clothing shops, computer shops).
• All parks, beaches, swimming pools, bazaars, flea markets.
• All nightclubs, casinos, lodges, guest houses, private and public game reserves, resorts (except for those where tourists are being kept under lockdown as part of quarantine).
• All on-consumption premises (eg. shisanyama, restaurants, taverns, shebeens).
• All off-consumption premises – eg. bottle stores.
• Police Minister Bheki Cele says you will not even be allowed to buy booze at supermarkets during the lockdown.
• All theatres and cinemas.
• All restaurants.
• No dog walking.
• No movement of liquor – ie you can’t pop next door with a six-pack.
• Six months in prison or a fine or both if you contravene these regulations.

WATCH: How to wash your hands properly

THE ECONOMY

• An agreement between the Labour Minister and textile workers gives some indication as to how workers will be able to access UIF funds to tide them over under lockdown. They’ll be guaranteed full salaries for six weeks during and after the lockdown.
• This agreement was struck in the context of unionised workers at the collective bargaining council – it’s still unclear what mechanism will be used for non-unionised workers.
• It’s also not clear exactly how much money the UIF has to play with – the Labour Minister wouldn’t say at a media briefing earlier this week.
• The scale of the economic impact this lockdown and the virus will have on us is coming into sharp focus with the release of a recording of a conference call where Edcon CEO Grant Pattison broke down, as he told suppliers the company only has enough cash to pay salaries, so he won’t be able to pay them. After the lockdown announcement, Edcon’s turnover declined 45% in comparison to the same period last year.

THE PRESIDENT

• Convened a teleconference with other AU leaders.
• They’ve raised a fund – the Africa COVID-19 fund, which starts with US$16million.
• G20 countries also met (imagine that Zoom meeting) – more messages of solidarity – both in terms of medical assistance and economic assistance.
• Calls for stimulus and debt relief packages, that will allow less developed countries to halt their interest payments for a period, and free up more money to fight the virus. No figure was mentioned, but a case was made that Africa needs support.
• Nice analogy about the stage of the virus as a time of day: "Africa is in the morning, Europe is at midday, China is in the afternoon."

BASIC EDUCATION

• ANOTHER FAKE NEWS ALERT: several social media posts suggesting dates that have been chosen for the resumption of lessons. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga set the record straight.
• No set date for schools to reopen – it will all depend on the curve, and whether it flattens. The decision to resume classes will be informed by the Health Department.
• Independent schools will have to fall in line in that regard – no resumption of classes until the Health Department gives the go-ahead.
• Support for school kids the department has prepared online and broadcast support resources with a special focus on grade 12 learners and the promotion of reading for all the grades.
• Some of the programmes will be available from 1 April.
• Broadcast lessons working with the SABC TV and Radio, DSTV channel 180.
• Etv has allocated a dedicated channel for 3 months on the Openview platform.
• Broadcast of lessons on community radio stations around the country.
• E-readers available via all platforms in partnership with Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell-C.
• Free access to Siyavula Maths and Science support in partnership with MTN.
• Free access to the Vodacom Virtual Classroom.
• The schedule for the broadcast of the lessons is available on the DBE website and on social media.
• No distribution of any materials, the only DBE workers who are working are a small handful who’ll be making and broadcasting the broadcast lessons.
• No DBE-run feeding schemes will run during the lockdown. The Department of Social Services will identify the poorest areas that might need food support, and will act accordingly.
• They are counting the days and hours they are losing from the lockdown, and figuring out how to make them up – that might mean shortening holidays, or changing the term structure.

ALAN WINDE (WESTERN CAPE PREMIER)

• 10 “workstreams” working on mitigation of the spread, and mitigation of the economic effects of the virus.
• Budgetary changes to allow for the release of funding for essential health kit.
• Chronic medicine is now being delivered to homes – to ensure people don’t have to stand in queues and make themselves vulnerable.
• With the province in lockdown, one of its biggest contributing sectors, tourism, is going to take a terrible beating. The Western Cape government has made help and advice for any business that needs clarity or advice available at: www.Supportbusiness.co.za or you can SMS “HELP” to 31022 or you can email service@westerncape.gov.za
• Safety and Security – specifically Friday – will be out in full force.
• All main hospitals are being set up to handle COVID-19 cases. Patients/suspected patients will be housed in a special wing.
• They are also planning for field hospitals – based on particular trigger points in their modelling (in case things get really bad).

DR BETH ENGELBRECHT – OUTGOING WC HEAD OF HEALTH

• You don’t need to wear a mask unless you are ill, or if you are working with people who are ill – an appeal from her to not buy masks unless you absolutely need them, as you will be depriving others who need them.
• Please call the Western Cape COVID-19 call centre before you get tested. The goal is to not flood the system.