Out on the street, health precautions were scant in Makhanda on Monday 30 March, the first day for social grant payouts. However, inside payout points, measures were in place to protect recipients and shoppers and taxis have been abiding by the half-occupancy regulation. Hours later, in his address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the seriousness of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic and announced the rollout of a massive-scale screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme.
Older people and the disabled, many accompanied by relatives, formed long queues and clustered in groups outside supermarkets on the day that 10 more Coronavirus Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape brought the total to 12 in the Province. Nationally, confirmed C19 cases are up to 1326, with three deaths and South Africa has been in lockdown since Friday 27 March that will continue to midnight on 16 April 2020.03.31
In Makhanda, taxis, whose operating hours have been extended for social grant collection days, say they are abiding by the 50% occupancy regulation.
Chairperson of the local branch of the Border Alliance Taxi Association Dole Kondile said the organisation’s members were strictly abiding by the lockdown regulation that taxis may only carry half the number of passengers (eight in a 16-seater). This didn’t mean long queues at the taxi ranks, however.
“The taxis are loading quicker and doing more trips,” Kondile said. “What’s worrying me are the queues outside the shops. They are so long that I think that is what is going to kill people.”
Chairperson of Uncedo Taxi Association Monde Sandi said their taxis were keeping to the half-full rule.
“But we are crying,” he said. “We have to pay instalments.”
Not all the owners were benefiting from the payment holidays offered by financial institutions under the Covid-19 National Disaster, he said, because they’d made private arrangements.
Under lockdown taxi operating hours are 5am to 9am and 4pm to 8pm.
The restrictions have been temporarily lifted during the social grants payment period until Friday 3 April from 5am to 8pm.
Taxis are required to sanitise the vehicle between each trip.
At the Checkers social grant payment point, there was good management of the crowd, according to a person who went with her elderly mother to collect yesterday. She prefers not to be named and the interview was by phone.
“It was fine. There were two queues – one for shoppers and one for old people and they took five at a time from each queue.”
There was spaced seating for the elderly in the foyer, the person said, sanitiser at the entrance and lines on the floor to indicate the distance apart people must stand.
“The taxi was not a problem,” she said. “There were just seven in it so it loaded quickly.”
But many opted to walk, and streams of people moved up and down the pedestrian routes between east Makhanda and the CBD.
In Hlalani and Tantyi, groups moved up and down the streets in social groups, with no visible sign that they were going to or from the shops.
SANDF members were out and about, but as on Friday, they were doing their monthly shopping and money transfers. However, military police were addressing people in a queue outside Pick n Pay when Grocott’s Mail was there.
THIS WAS SOCIAL GRANTS PAYMENT DAY IN MAKHANDA UNDER LOCKDOWN:
In a message broadcast across several television channels, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africans on Day 4 of the lockdown.
“As government, we are aware that the lockdown has caused great disruption to all our lives and caused upheaval in our economy,” the President said. “But we all know and agree that this nation-wide lockdown is absolutely necessary to save the lives of thousands, even tens of thousands, of our people.”
He cited the current global infection tally of 740 000 people and the death toll as a result of the pandemic at the start of the week of over 35 000.
“The health systems of many countries, including hospitals and clinics, are under tremendous stress as they deal with the pandemic,” the President said. “Our own researchers and scientists have told us that our decision to lock down the country was a correct one. They were concerned that without quick action we were only a few weeks away from a similar situation to other countries which have been adversely affected.
“That is why we took the radical step of locking down the country for 21 days.”
He thanked South Africans who had responded to this decision by staying at home, observing the regulations and exercising care.
“We are, however, concerned about those who have not yet appreciated the seriousness of this disease,” he said.
“Some people may think this disease is something that doesn’t concern them and will never affect them. That it is something they only read about in newspapers or see reports about on TV.
“But it is very real, and it poses a great danger to every one of us and to our society. It infects the rich and the poor, the young and the old, black and white, those who live in the cities and those in the villages.
“Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is somebody else’s problem.
“Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued or try to get around the rules, you are putting yourself and others at risk, and helping the virus to spread.”
Ramaphosa said South Africa was entering a new phase in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and that a large-scale screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme would be rolled out. Elements include:
- Around 10,000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms.
- People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing.
- People who are infected with coronavirus, but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.
- Using mobile technology, an extensive tracing system will be rapidly deployed to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical location of new cases in real time.
“This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale,” the President said.
READ THE GUIDELINES FOR THE 21-DAY LOCKDOWN HERE: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2020/03/26/guidelines-for-the-21-day-lockdown/