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It's official: We're in lockdown. And these are the rules

Basically, it boils down to one rule: unless you have to, don't leave home

27 March 2020 - 00:00 By Matthew Savides
SANDF soldiers in Mary Fitzgerald square in Newtown Johannesburg. They will be deployed to Alex, Hillbrow and other parts of the Johannesburg during the lockdown.
SANDF soldiers in Mary Fitzgerald square in Newtown Johannesburg. They will be deployed to Alex, Hillbrow and other parts of the Johannesburg during the lockdown.
Image: Alaister Russell

At the very moment this article was published, SA went into lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that from Friday, and for 21 days, the country would be under lockdown in an attempt to “flatten the curve” in reducing the number of Covid-19 infections.

At the time of his address, there were 402 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. At 5.30pm on Thursday — just 6-and-a-half hours before the lockdown kicked in — that number had risen to 927.

Ramaphosa said there was a fear that it would continue to rise.

In the days that followed Ramaphosa's announcement on Monday, various ministers and government departments have outlined exactly what the lockdown means, along with what you can and can't do.

These are some of the main ones:

  • Stay at home. The message from police minister Bheki Cele and transport minister Fikile Mbalula was a simple one: if you don't have to leave your house, then don't. Only those whose work is classified as an essential service or those going to perform an essential task (buying food or medicine, or seeking medical attention) should leave the house. That means no jogging and no walking the dog. Stay at home.
  • Don't pack the car. If you do have to leave the house, there will be very strict rules in place. First, public transport will only be available for eight hours a day, from 5am to 9am and from 4pm to 8pm. If you're using a private vehicle, then there can only be two people in the car: the driver and the passenger. If you do go out, you won't need to wear a mask or gloves — despite what you might have read on WhatsApp.
  • Don't drink and smoke. In one of the more divisive rules, Cele said that alcohol would not be on sale for the 21-day lockdown. Neither would cigarettes.
  • Keep it real. “Don't lie,” Cele said at the press conference when asked about whether people trying to escape the lockdown would fib their way out of trouble. If you're busted breaking the regulations, he said, a jail term and/or a fine could come your way. And if you are tested and asked for information, and you fail to provide it, you will be named and shamed, said health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
  • Don't run away. Police announced on Wednesday that two people — a businessman in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, and a foreign tourist — were both facing attempted murder charges for disobeying orders to self-quarantine.
  • Don't order in. All restaurants, including food delivery services, will not be operational.
  • Do get your social grant. There will be public transport restrictions, but you will be able to collect your social grants, the social development department has said.

Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the police took to the streets of Johannesburg in the early hours of March 27 2020 to enforce the curfew set for the country's lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown between midnight of March 26 2020 until April 16 2020.