Limited shopping hours and a cap on the number of shoppers – this is what is being suggested by Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith as a means to decrease activity on the city’s streets during the lockdown.
The City of Cape Town is calling on national government to refine the Disaster Management Act regulations relating to Covid-19 to make its implementation easier for the authorities.
“Currently, any person found on the street may plausibly claim to be out for the purposes of shopping for food. It is impossible for the police – whether SAPS, SANDF, Metro Police or Law Enforcement – to truthfully determine whether a person is entitled to be on the street or not,” Smith said in a statement.
He is urging national government to amend the regulations to limit the hours of shopping at malls, as well as spaza and tuck shops, to 09.00am until 13.00pm daily. According to Smith, everybody will have had the chance to undertake their necessary shopping once the grant recipients have drawn their grant payments.
“We also call on them to limit the number of people who may be out to shop on any day to specific surnames who may be out on any given day, or some other provision in the regulations, to make regulations more helpful for the police to be able to improve the situation on the streets.”
Tuesday marked Day 5 of the 21-day nationwide lockdown, which bars people from leaving their homes unless for essential purposes, such as purchasing groceries, seeking medical attention, collecting grants and buying medication.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed the number of Covid-19 cases in the country had increased to 1,353, with four deaths.
Smith appealed to national government to reconsider their stance on the deployment of the neighbourhood watches, which he argued would be able to assist as “credible messengers to encourage communities to comply with the regulations and stay indoors”.
According to Smith, there were not nearly enough enforcement resources to achieve this without the help of civil society.
“There are thousands of well-trained neighbourhood watches in Cape Town who would be able to continue doing the good work they do every day in fighting crime – we have already seen criminals changing their modus operandi to take advantage of the lockdown,” Smith said.
The deployment could be limited to accredited neighbourhood watches, as they were trained and vetted, he added.
“It is important that the public abides by the lockdown regulations and only leave their homes when they absolutely have to. Ultimately, we are trying to prevent the mass transmission of an unprecedented health risk, but there appears to be a lack of appreciation for this fact,” Smith said.
“People who still think this is a joke need to do some serious introspection, because our collective actions today will determine the impact of the virus on our country tomorrow and beyond.”