South Africa

Minister describes balancing act between mobility and Covid-19 prevention

Minister describes balancing act between mobility and Covid-19 prevention

While forms of road-based public transport may now function without curfew, operators must still adhere to capacity restrictions.

This was announced by minister of transport Fikile Mbalula on Sunday, as SA prepared to enter level 3 of the risk-adjusted strategy outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a statement issued by his department, Mbalula expressed that the balancing act between enabling mobility and arresting the spread of Covid-19 was delicate.

“With the increase in the number of people returning to work and learners and students returning to institutions of learning, long distance public transport crossing provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries is permitted to operate,” he said.

“The consultations we have held with industry bodies, across various modes of transport, have given us confidence that the majority of the sector is ready to resume operations with strict adherence to health protocols.”

It was stated that minibus taxis must remain at 70% loading capacity, while buses, e-hailing vehicles, metered taxis and shuttle services are permitted to have 50% occupancy.

From  June 1 all drivers’ licence testing centres (DLTCs), vehicle testing centres (VTCs) and provincial regulatory entities (PREs) were allowed to open their doors, however this was subject to passing a state of readiness test conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

Meanwhile, bans imposed on maritime travel are unchanged, with ports only open to vessels delivering cargo.

“Limited domestic air travel for business purposes will be allowed, subject to restrictions on the number of flights per day and authorisation based on the reason for travel.”

The resumption of flights will occur in a phased manner, beginning with OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka and Lanseria international airports.

Strict measures will be implemented at terminal buildings, including temperature screening and floor markings that enforce social distancing.

Full passenger capacity will be permitted in aircraft cabins, with the last row reserved for suspected cases, while catering and magazines will not be allowed.

“It must be noted that the risk of Covid-19 infection on-board a commercial passenger airliner is lower than in many other confined spaces. All our commercial aircraft are fitted with the high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These are manufactured to the same standard as those used in hospital operating theatres and industrial clean rooms, with the same efficacy of 99.97% in removing viruses.”

Lastly, rail operations are currently limited to the operation of the Gautrain network. Mbalula said the target date for a resumption of Metrorail commuter service activities on certain lines would be July 1.