Police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: NTSWE MOKOENA
Police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: NTSWE MOKOENA

South Africans will not be allowed to walk their dogs, order food from a restaurant or buy alcohol during the 21-day national lockdown to try curbing the spread of Covid-19, police minister Bheki Cele said on Wednesday.

The lockdown is intended to curb local transmission of the virus, which has spread to all nine provinces. As of Wednesday, the total number of reported cases stood at 709, with 319 cases in Gauteng.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country would go into the lockdown from midnight on Thursday until April 16.

South Africans and businesses have been unsure about what they can and cannot do since the announcement.

“There is no need to be on the road, no need to move around,” Cele said during a briefing by the justice cluster ministers on lockdown regulations.

“There was a little bit of a story that you can walk your dogs. There shall be no dogs walked; it doesn’t enhance the call made by the president. Walk your dog around the house. It … does not go beyond that,” he said.

Government officials gave contradictory messages on Wednesday about movement during the lockdown.

In an interview with the SABC earlier in the day health minister Zweli Mkhize said dog owners and joggers would be allowed to hit the streets during the lockdown.

“There shouldn’t be a problem with that,” he said.

But mere hours later Cele said it will not be allowed.

List of prohibitions

After Cele’s announcement, Mkhize said that when he had answered the question about being able to jog or walk dogs, he had said it was in line with the government’s thinking. “But we saw the distraction it caused … it does not add any value to the lockdown,” he said.

Cele read through a list of prohibitions during the lockdown.

He said all restaurants and food outlets will be closed. Food can only be bought at supermarkets that will remain open.

“You buy food from these outlets and go and cook at home,” the police minister said.

Cele also announced that no alcohol will be sold in the next three weeks.

Hospitals need as many empty beds as possible to prepare for the worsening of the pandemic,  and if people are not drinking alcohol there will be fewer accidents and less violence, he said.

“For 21 days please stay sober,” Cele said.

He said anyone who fails to adhere to the regulations could face up to six months in prison, a fine or both.

“It is not a fairy tale to say the law will act and it will act very harshly on you. We hope to work together here,” Cele said.  

The police minister said other areas that will be closed include public parks, beaches, public swimming pools, nightclubs, shebeens, taverns, casinos, hotels, lodges and guesthouses. 

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