Movement started to return to the Cape Town CBD on Monday, the first working day since Level 4 lockdown restrictions were implemented.
The city centre, however, was anything but bustling, and traffic was not congested. Most people lined up outside ATMs and banks as social grants were disbursed.
While there was no congestion on the usually bumper-to-bumper roads in the city centre, many more cars appeared to be on the roads than under the strict Level 5 restrictions, as certain businesses, such as clothing stores, were allowed to reopen.
Public transport users travelled to the CBD by bus or taxi as the station concourse remained shut.
Trains – a core component of public transport in Cape Town – are expected to gradually start operating under Level 3 restrictions.
Informal traders were delighted by the feet returning to the city, saying they now had more customers to buy their goods.
Clothing stores, allowed to sell winter stock, appeared empty, with almost none of them having queues outside their doors.
The historic Trafalgar Place, the trading area for the colourful Adderley Street flower sellers, was deserted.
St George’s Mall, usually teeming with pedestrians and tourists, was also practically empty.
“I am so pleased to be back at work!” said one Sea Point retail employee in Cape Town.
“Just sitting at home doing nothing…” Peter Philander, a sales assistant at a bed company, trails off. “It feels hopeful to be doing something.”
Philander was one of those individuals who was allowed to return to his work during Level 4 of the nationwide lockdown, as the bed company he works for can trade under the new restrictions.
No furniture is allowed to be sold, but bed-related sales are permitted.
He said he already had one order for a bed under his belt by 10am on Monday.
“It’s for an old man who just couldn’t take the back pain anymore.”
He said that the worst part of the lockdown was not being able to travel from his home in Mitchells Plain, to Klapmuts near Paarl, to see family.
Most of the shops along the main road in Sea Point were still closed – not yet permitted to trade.
Some shops had signs inviting people to WhatsApp for home deliveries.
The Whitehouse homeware shop was only allowed to sell a few items, such as bedsheets, with a sign prohibiting the sale of the straw laundry baskets.
Staff wore matching stone-coloured masks which would also go on sale shortly as they dusted after such a long closure.
A MyCiTi bus to Hangberg in Hout Bay was among a few of the buses on the road, as traffic resembled an early Sunday morning, and not the usual busy Monday.
“The clementine are very sweet!” said a fruit vendor offering a packet.
“R20 for two nice ripe avocados,” he added.
Most of the business seemed to be taking place around banks, with queues forming outside at the ATMs.