Update: Government has updated its rules around South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown. You can read the new prohibitions here.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize, has told SABC News that people will be able to walk their dog, and go for a jog during a three-week lockdown enforced by president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The terms around such activities however, have not yet been published.
Ramaphosa ordered a 21-day lockdown with severe restrictions on travel and movement – beginning midnight on Thursday – to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the country.
In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases has increased dramatically to 709.
Under the president’s orders – measures included in the lockdown include:
- All South Africans will have to stay at home.
- Exempted: health workers in public and private health sectors; emergency personnel; security services such as police and soldiers; those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods; those working in essential services.
- People will only be able to leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, or seek medical care; or to collect a social grant.
- Shelters for homeless people will be identified, as well as quarantine areas for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
- All businesses will close – only medical facilities pharmacies, laboratories, petrol stations and food stores will remain open;
- Essential transport services will also continue.
#ZweliMkhize says there’s no problem with jogging, walking the dogs and going to the grocery store during the #SouthAfricaLockdown.
He says the lockdown is to avoid congregating in large numbers. #Covid19SA #CoronavirusInSA
— National Health Insurance – NHI (@NationalNhi) March 25, 2020
When asked by SABC News whether people can walk their dogs and go out for walks, minister Mkhize said “that shouldn’t be a problem”. He said that people should be able to go to the shops to buy food and essentials during the 21-day lockdown.
“What we really want to avoid is people congregating in large numbers, big meetings.”
“What we also want to discourage, is people inviting friends over. People must keep their distance,” the minister said.
In a separate interview with eNCA, Mkhize further clarified that South Africans will be able to jog and walk their dogs, but must do so alone or in very small groups with distance between people.
He said that people will pay a price if they think they are on a three-week holiday. “Between people, is where we are going to stop the virus from spreading. We would like people to stay at home,” he said.
“People must stay at home, and not travel around, and not mix in large groups. This disease will not be defeated by doctors and nurses. It will be defeated by individuals.”
“We are cutting down on massive movement,” the minister stressed.
Anyone caught breaking the terms of the lockdown could be punished with imprisonment for up to one month, or with a fine.
Globally, there have been 422,913 reported cases, with 18,905 deaths. 109,143 people have recovered, but 294,865 cases remain active, with 13,095 in serious or critical condition.