Lockdown Part 2: What Now?

The second phase of South Africa’s national COVID-19 lockdown will be under rules only slightly altered from the initial hard lockdown, the government announced on Thursday. What does this mean for Atlas Security…? Well, essentially nothing changes, its business as usual. Our Armed Response vehicles continue their patrols and respond to your alarm, for whatever emergency. We have made operational changes to ensure that both you and our staff are safe, these changes by no means affect our ability to deliver the service you’ve become accustomed to.

On Thursday, Ministers presented their plans for the new phase, before the publication of updated regulations that will take on the force of law, complete with criminal sanction.

There would be “a few amendments”, co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said, but mostly existing regulations will be extended.

Coming weeks may see further relaxations, she said, refusing to speak about specifics beyond “schools might be opening” and “industries may have to come slowly on stream”, as part of an “orderly way of easing the lockdown”.

“Expect almost every week new conditions will be coming.”

This is what we know so far about the new rules for South Africa’s lockdown.

Cooked food is still off the menu – and supermarkets can’t sell hot roast chicken or pies

Despite the arguments by fast food and other restaurants that they should be allowed to reopen, cooked food will still not be allowed during the lockdown, Dlamini-Zuma said.

Asked if supermarkets are allowed to sell hot food, such as freshly roasted chickens, minister of trade and industry Ebrahim Patel was unequivocal: restaurants and takeaways remain closed, and supermarkets open to selling essential goods must close their hot-food sections.

That position is under constant review, Patel said, “but as things stand right now it is very clear what the position is”.

There’s no sign of a relaxation on the alcohol ban

The new rules emphasise that the transport of alcohol is not allowed, Dlamini-Zuma said.

Cigarette sales remain banned

The new regulations make no mention of cigarettes. Asked if that ban will be lifted, minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu responded with a flat “no”.

Emergency workers will be able to get their cars repaired – and you can call out a plumber or an electrician

The new regulations will recognise the need that some essential workers may have cars that break down, Dlamini-Zuma said, so “those professionals” who would deal with cars can return to work.

The same holds true if householders have a burst pipe or an electricity problem, she said.

Specifically included in the list of artisans allowed to do emergency repair work:

  • locksmiths
  • glaziers
  • roof repairers
  • plumbers
  • electricians 

Some hardware and car-part stores will be able to open – but only for emergency supplies

Essential goods will now include the hardware, “components and supplies needed by tradespeople for emergency repairs at homes”.

The hardware and supplies needed by institutions deemed essential, such as hospitals, may also be sold. 

The same goes for suppliers of car parts for any vehicle “used by a person engaged in essential services work”.

But there are strict rules in place that will allow for the prosecution of anyone who tries to buy non-essential hardware.

“Stores selling hardware products and vehicle components must maintain a register of persons buying essential goods… and must keep a record of  a signed declaration” from the buyer that the goods are essential, the new regulations read.

Community watch groups will not be allowed to patrol their neighbourhoods

There are no plans to allow community watch organisations to resume patrolling their neighbourhoods, police minister Bheki Cele said in response to a question.

Several organisations have lobbied for such changes. At present only formal security guards that can be said to be protecting physical property are allowed to continue work.

There are two problems with allowing neighbourhood watch groups to operate in the streets, Cele said: there is no structure to hold them accountable for their actions, and unlike police and soldiers they are not “vetted and known”.

Funeral rules ‘not changed’

Regulations on attending funerals will remain the same, Dlamini-Zuma said. “Funerals are still strictly for 50 people, that has not changed.”

Close family members of a deceased who want to travel will still need a magistrate to sign off a permit, she said, while in cultures that conduct “quick funerals”, attendees can go to a police station and complete an affidavit.

Children may be able to move between parents with a birth certificate

Currently, divorced parents with shared custody need to show a court-approved co-parenting plan in order for children to move between them – after even such movement was initially banned entirely.

Now, Dlamini-Zuma implied, moving children between parents will be possible as long as the parents can produce at least a birth certificate to prove the connection with their children. 

More call centres may open, including those for retailers (and their store cards)

Because store credit cards are covered by insurance policies – which need to be activated, more call centres will be allowed to open, including those for retailers.

Formally the new regulations say that call centres “necessary to provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services, debt restructuring for consumers of retailers, and access to short-term insurance policies as a result of reduced income or loss of income” may operate.