The outbreak of the COVID-19 has disrupted many activities around the world as the number of confirmed cases continues to escalate. There are about 709 confirmed incidents of the coronavirus in South Africa. The latest panacea has been a total lockdown of all the activities in the country, so the South African government has issued an official statement to this effect. However, some essential services are exempted from this national lockdown. There are rules laid down for the public to adhere to for the safety of everyone.
The government of South Africa has given exemptions to some personnel who provide important services to the public during the period of lockdown. The Minister of transport, during his interview with 702, pointed out that these workers are allowed to use public transport provided they have their permit. This permit will be marked as essential. Fikile Mbalula further stated that it is the responsibility of the employers to provide these permits for their employees.
South African lockdown: who can still go to work?
In line with the declared isolation by many countries in the world, the South African Department of Cooperative and Government Affairs has outlined some essential services that are excluded from the 21-day lockdown in South Africa. They will continue to discharge their services to the public.
During his national address to the nation on Monday, the 23rd of March, 2020, the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, emphasised that companies involved in the production of food, medical items, and basic human goods and the transportation serives will be operating during this period. As such, a list of these exempted set includes the following:
- All types of emergency services, such as disaster management and fire fighting services, should not stop operations.
- All forms of medical and laboratory services can carry out their services, including mental health care.
- All forms of food and household products and basic needs, such as electricity and call credit services
- Grocery stores and spaza shops are exempted from the lockdown rules South Africa
- Jobs necessary for providing government services are exempted. However, these have to be established by the Head of National or Provincial Departments.
- Any financial services that are important for the smooth running of banks and making necessary payments to the public are free from the shutdown, including insurance services, JSE, and other exchange services.
- Offices responsible for the issuance of birth and death certificates and replacing ID documents
- All important municipal services
- There is no lockdown on the production and sales of any chemicals.
- People can sell as well as buy hygiene and safety products in the medical or retail departments
11. All kinds of funeral services, including mortuaries.
12. Wildlife management, animal care, and veterinary services
13. Newspapers, broadcasting, and telecommunications offices and services
14. Transportation services for people and goods
15. Cleaning services.
16. All services concerning the vital proceedings of the courts.
17. Gold refinery and coal mining operations
18. All people in the police, medical officers in the military, soldiers, traffic personnel, and officers in the correctional homes
19. All courier services in the duty of supplying medical products
20. Private security firms
21. All services provided by the executive arm of the government and other arms and stakeholders in the administration, including national officers of the political parties
22. Officers of the Civil Aviation Authority, Air-traffic Navigation, and Cargo Shipping
23. Social workers who offer care services, including people who take care of old people, children, the sick ones, and people suffering from disabilities and mental illnesses.
24. Every accommodation that is used for quarantine and isolating people
25. The manufacturing, production, logistics, transport, and emergency operations regarding all the essential services
26. All the important SARS services
27. The religious commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of South Africa
28. All transport and logistics services that convey important goods to nearby countries
South Africa lockdown rules
The media, as well as other persons and services listed above, have been exempted from the lockdown to avoid the escalation of the COVID 19 cases in South Africa. Every other person is expected to adhere to the lockdown injunction. Sequel to this, the government has set aside some rules to help ensure total compliance from the general public. Below are some of the South Africa lockdown rules:
- Movement across cities or provinces or towns is not allowed. All people are expected to stay in their homes. The country’s borders have all been shut down.
- The government has placed a ban on all forms of gatherings. Those who must gather should not exceed 50.
- No one is expected to leave the house except for shopping for groceries and other essential goods or services such as emergencies.
- Anyone who leaves their home except for any of the above reasons shall pay a fine and possibly serve a jail term for breaking the lockdown rules.
- The police have been vested with the authority to detain anyone suspected to have the COVID-19 virus.
- There will be a thorough sanitization of vehicles during this period. Only taxis conveying essential service providers are permitted to operate within the crucial hours of 5:00 am to 9:00 am and 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
- All the in and outbound flights are canceled during the lockdown period. The same applies to rail transport. Only air cargo carrying essential goods are exempted from the rule.
The health minister, Zweli Mkhize, warned that the virus might continue to spread if not checked. In line with this, the national lockdown is necessary to avoid a further spread of the deadly virus. However, the government has considered the need for people to have access to some basic needs. This explains the rationale behind the exemption for essential services in South Africa as long as the lockdown lasts.