You can run, cycle and walk – from Friday.
But where? What is public open space – and where is still banned?
City of Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato has clarified precisely where Capetonians can and can’t get their fix of endorphins from Friday morning.
His bad news was: “Parks, beaches, reserves remain closed under Level 4 lockdown.”
This is in line with the regulations, which state that public parks, sports grounds and fields, beaches, public swimming pools, and public and private reserves remain closed.
But the good news is: “I am pleased to say that public thoroughfares across the city will be open for those residents who want to run, jog, cycle or walk, within a 5km radius from their homes, between 06:00 and 09:00.”
These include spaces such as:
- Sea Point promenade (the paved area, and not the grass or play area)
- Muizenberg to St James walkway
- Strand promenade
- Willis Walk in Simon’s Town
- Kommetjie walkway to lighthouse
- Government Avenue next to the Company’s Garden
- all other publicly accessible boardwalks or pathways.
But much remains unclear across South Africa.
Questions such as: How do the public know if certain “thoroughfares” are open or closed? How many family members, who live together under ‘lockdown’, may walk in a group?
How far do cyclists need to remain from each other, in order to not become a ‘group’? How will law enforcement monitor if you are further than 5km from your house?
And the golden question for many: Are walkers and joggers permitted to take their dogs along, while exercising their newly granted liberties?
The City of Cape Town referred these questions to the national government.
In his statement, Plato said: “Together with officials from the City of Cape Town, we have studied the amended Disaster Management Act regulations as published by the national government in preparation for Level 4 of the Covid-19 lockdown period.
“The regulations explicitly state that no municipality will be allowed to open public parks, nature reserves, and beaches. Thus, these public areas remain off limits until further notice.
“However, concessions have been made by the national government to allow residents to exercise during 06:00 and 09:00 in the morning as from tomorrow (Friday), 1 May.
“I am sure these concessions will bring some relief during this time when our freedom of movement is curtailed. At the same time, I am calling on residents to please continue to practice physical distancing when they are out exercising. Wear a face mask, or a cloth to cover your mouth and nose when you leave home. Do not congregate or exercise in groups. This is for your own safety, and for the safety of others,” Plato said.
But the 21 hours a day prohibition on exercise – outside of the 06.00am-09.00am window – may be unconstitutional, according to a constitutional law expert.
Asked if the new early morning regulations prejudiced small children, school children, and the frail and elderly, Professor Pierre de Vos said: “The problem is a bit wider than this. The regulation clearly limits the right to freedom of movement.”
De Vos is the Claude Leon Foundation chair in constitutional governance and head of the department of public law at UCT.
“The problem is that this limitation does not appear to be justifiable under the limitation clause because it does not seem to have any link to the slowing down or suppression of the spread of Covid-19, as there is no evidence that the virus will spread faster if you exercise after 09:00.
“Also, the regulation hits the groups you mention particularly hard, but this is not necessary to achieve the purpose of slowing the spread of the virus.
“So, yes, I suspect the provision is unconstitutional,” De Vos told News24.