What life will look like under Level 4 of lockdown

A lengthy government briefing yielded more details about what a Level 4 lockdown will look like.

FILE: A South African Police Service (SAPS) officer checks the permit of a taxi driver in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, on 30 March 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - As of 1 May, some of the lockdown regulations will be relaxed.

The Nation moves to Level 4 on government’s alert matrix.

While various ministers have been at pains to point out that the nation remains under lockdown, some of the regulations have been relaxed. There have also been some additions.

As with so many regulations imposed under this unprecedented lockdown, these will be a work in progress and could be subject to change and adaptation as the weeks wear on.

Here’s what we know about how things will change come Friday, 1 May:

You’ll be able to buy more than just food, medicine and baby clothes

Government is now adding personal ICT supplies to the list of items permitted to be sold – those include laptops, computers, phones and the like; winter clothes and any other winter supplies like blankets and heaters will be available for purchase once more, smokers can exhale – tobacco products can also be sold at level four.

Stationery and educational books can be sold under level four too, so school children will be able to continue their curriculum – albeit from home.

If you’re a drinker, and your bar has run dry, there’s little hope for a reprieve.

The ban on alcohol sales remains in place under Level 4, but the draft framework published suggested under a Level 3 lockdown, bottle stores will be allowed to open again.

If you’re sick of cooking, and you can afford to buy restaurant meals, you’ll be able to do so, provided you use a food delivery service. That’s good news for the restaurant industry, that’s likely to have a very long and punishing road to anything approaching normality.

Restaurant kitchens can reopen between 9am and 8pm, no sit-down or pick up will be allowed.

You’ll get your temperature taken when you go shopping

Under Level 4 regulations, stores have to ensure patrons are screened for a high temperature (one of the main symptoms of COVID-19).

They will have to ensure they have sanitiser on hand, and facilitate social distancing. This might mean limiting the number of people in a shop and using a ticketing system with a time limit for shoppers.

You’ll have to be home by 8pm

Government wants to ensure people stay inside as much as possible, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. To that end, they’re imposing a curfew, between 8pm and 5am.

Essential services workers and staff working the night shift under Level 4 will obviously be exempt from that curfew.

You’ll be able to exercise under strict conditions

Those conditions have yet to be outlined, and Cogta Minister Nkosasana Dlamini Zuma told a briefing on Saturday morning that the regulations will be gazette by Thursday.

What we do know, however, is that no group or organised exercise will be permitted, which means no club runs, walking clubs, impromptu soccer games or anything that involves people gathering.

You’ll be able to take more forms of public transport

Under a Level 4 lockdown, there will be more public transport options available to ferry more workers to and from work.

The restrictions on capacity will remain in place i.e no more than three people in a four-person car, and no more than 70% capacity for minibuses and busses.

Detailed directions on public transport, including operating hours, will be published and explained during the coming week.

You’ll finally be able to transfer your home

If you lodged a transfer at the Deeds Office before the lockdown, your transfer would already have been delayed by five weeks. Under Level 4 restrictions the deeds office is allowed to open again and start working.

Their colleagues in licensing and permitting centres will also return to work

You’ll be able to get back to work – well, some of you

Government is taking a gently-gently approach to releasing people back into the workplace, with certain sectors allowed to phase in operations under Level Four.

Officials believe the move from Level 5 to Level 4 will mean that four out of every 10 workers will be able to return to the workplace. That amounts to about 1.5 million people.

All the jobs, listed as essential under the hard lockdown (Level 5), can continue to work as they have been.

But as of 1 May, automotive manufacturers, stationery manufacturers and cement, hardware and construction supply manufacturers can scale up in phases to 50% capacity.

All other manufacturing can scale up to 20 of capacity – again, phasing staff in over a yet-to-be-determined period of time.

Social workers and counsellors can get back to work, and the recycling industry – both formal and informal – can ramp up to 50% capacity.

Forestry workers will be able to return to work, as will those working in open cast mining

Road and bridge projects will come back online, so people working on those projects will be able to go back to work, as will public works civil engineers.

Restaurant kitchen staff will be able to go back to work, if the restaurant they work for is using the opportunity to reopen for deliveries only.

Call centres will be allowed to reopen – but further details on which ones, and how they will be allowed to reopen will be explained during the course of the coming week.

Domestic workers and carers will be able to return to work, but only where they work for employers who are returning to the workplace under Level 4 restrictions.

You’ll be able to get your car fixed

Under the hard lockdown, emergency vehicle repairs were only allowed for essential services workers. As we move to Level 4, anyone can access those services.

You still can’t leave the province that you are in

Inter-provincial travel is still banned under Level Four restrictions, except for travel to or from a funeral.

Those returning to work under the new level will be allowed to travel to the province where they work.

It’s unclear at this stage whether a permit will be needed for that kind of travel, but it’s highly likely.

What’s next?

There are still a great many details to be explained, and government’s COVID 19 Command Council is preparing a series of briefings in the coming days to expand on the relaxations of restrictions and what they will mean.

There’s also been no directive as yet on what will happen with schools, but a ministers' briefing on Saturday morning promised more details during a formal education briefing scheduled for Monday.

Government has made its full draft framework available here: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/covid-19-
risk-adjusted-strategy/ and at https://www.gcis.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/goodsservices-movement-1.pdf.

It’s requesting comments on the framework.

If you have a submission to make, you can forward your comments, in writing to lockdowncomments@cogta.gov.za
by 12h00, on Monday, 27 April 2020.