Public transport across provincial and municipal boundaries, as well as restricted local passenger flights, will be allowed during Level 3 of the seclusion period. Shiploads will also be offloaded from ships in South African ports as of Monday and may be transported to the final destination. However, Prasa’s Metrorail service is not yet ready to take effect.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Saturday announced regulations regarding public transport during level 3 lockdown. It comes into effect on Monday, June 1. He said that because more people can go to work and to school during level 3, it also means that more people are dependent on public transport, so regulations for public transport need to be adjusted. The Minister announced the following amendments with the move from level 4 to level 3 of the lockdown:
Passenger ships are still not allowed in South Africa’s ports; only cargo ships or vessels carrying goods are allowed to enter ports. Seafarers registered in South Africa will also be allowed to disembark from ships and other vessels, provided they are placed under mandatory quarantine. It will also be permissible from Monday to load cargo from ships and transport them to the final destination.
A limited number of domestic flights will be allowed daily for people traveling for business purposes. Not all airports will be opened immediately. The three major airports, namely OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban will be opened first. The department is also preparing to open Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg shortly after the Level 3 entry on June 1. “Other, smaller airports do not yet have the resources to ensure that the necessary health and safety measures are ready to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at airports and aircraft. We are in the process of equipping these airports with the necessary resources and will open them in phases, ”says Mbalula.
Safety and health measures at airports include:
- Only passengers and airport staff are allowed at airports; no friends or family of passengers.
- The temperature of all passengers will be taken at the entrance to the airport.
- Only a few entrances to the airport will be in use.
- All passengers and airport staff must wear masks within the airport at all times.
- Markers will be installed on the floors to ensure that passengers maintain proper spaces between each other.
- Passengers are encouraged to book online.
The cabin of aircraft can be loaded to their full capacity. Air purifiers will be fitted in cabinets to remove viruses from the air in aircraft cabinets. These purifiers are similar to those used in hospitals’ theaters.
Organizations that provide aviation training can continue with contact and virtual training provided these students are already in the country. Foreign students need to be virtually taught.
Transport on roads
The Gautrain has been in operation since May, but will also be able to undertake trips to and from the airport from 1 June. However, Prasa is unable to continue its Metrorail service on Monday as the necessary measures are not yet ready to ensure COVID-19 is not distributed during train rides. The Department of Transport hopes to resume this service on July 1.
Transport by buses and taxis across provincial and municipal boundaries is permitted under Level 3 of isolation for passengers who are allowed to travel over long distances under the regulations. This includes people traveling for work, receiving medical treatment far from home, caring for a sick family member or going to school in another province or region. “These people must have the necessary permit with them when traveling,” Mbalula says.
Time limits on the functioning of public transport are abolished and buses, taxis and trains can now be operated at any time of the day. Taxis can only be 70% full. All other transport services, including buses, e-taxis and metered taxis may only be 50% full.