All road-based public transport services will from 1 May 2020 be permitted to operate from 5am until 7pm, with a grace period of one hour in the afternoon to complete their trips and drop off passengers.
This includes minibus-taxis, buses, metered taxis, e-hailing services, charter, and shuttle services.
This as the country on Friday began its first day of Alert Level 4 of the Risk-Adjusted Strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the directions that affect transport operations at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, following the publishing of the new regulations this week, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula emphasised that no public transport is allowed on the road between 8pm and 5am and that no person is allowed to use public transport without wearing a face mask.
“We call on the public to ensure strict adherence to this requirement by obtaining their own face masks in line with the guidance given by Minister [Nkosazana] Dlamini Zuma]. While government may provide limited assistance in ensuring availability of masks, the onus rests on each individual to ensure that they do not leave home without a mask,” Mbalula said.
He added that sanitisation principles – which is currently applicable to public transport vehicles and facilities – still remain.
The loading capacity for minibus-taxis remains at 70% of licensed passengers, with social distancing and other mitigating measures remaining in place.
Loading capacity for metered taxis and e-hailing services also remains at 50%, while a five-seater vehicle is permitted to carry a maximum of two passengers and a driver.
Buses will be allowed to transport 70% passengers of their licensed loading capacity, with requisite social distancing, wearing of masks by all passenger and other mitigating measures.
Shuttle services for essential work
Mbalula said shuttle and chauffeur services will be subject to the same rules as other road-based public transport modes.
However, both the shuttle and chauffeur services will only be permitted for transportation of people undertaking essential work and those economic sectors allowed to return back to work under level 4. The loading capacity of 50% is equally applicable to these services.
Charter services, which is used by a number of companies to transport employees working different shifts and outside permitted hours, will also be subject to the same rules as other road-based public transport modes. This service is only be permitted for transportation of people undertaking essential work, and the loading capacity allowed is 50%.
Delivery and courier services
Delivery services including Uber Eats, Mr Delivery and any other similar service are now permitted to operate between 9am and 7pm, only for delivery of food, while courier services are permitted to operate in the delivery of any goods permitted for sale in the Level 4 regulations.
The wholesale sector has also been allowed to return back to service and among the sub-sectors allowed to trade is e-commerce, including on-line shopping for items such as personal ICT equipment and other goods.
Passenger vessels and cruise liners
In respect of maritime transport, there will be no changes to the directions regulating the movement of ships. Mbalula said the ban on passenger vessels and cruise liners remains in place, and only vessels bringing in cargo are allowed to call on South Africa’s ports.
Only the movement of cargo from sea ports to either warehouses or final destinations is provided for in the current rules.
The ban on both domestic and international passenger flights remains in place. The repatriation flights either bringing back South Africans stranded in foreign countries or transporting foreign nationals to their home countries will be allowed.
“Due consideration will be given to the mining and agricultural sector to allow limited movement of aircrafts, either to transport essential workers by chartered aircrafts or to spray pesticides on crops. All these movements will be subject to approval and permits will be issued on a case by case basis,” said Mbalula.
No scheduled domestic flights will be permitted in Level 4. Only once the alert level moves to Level 3, limited movement of scheduled domestic flights will be allowed.
“It is only when the country’s alert level reaches Level 2 that we will fully open our airspace and allow movement of both domestic and international flights,” said the Minister.
Commuter rail will resume operations gradually on an incremental basis, based on the detailed plans submitted by the passenger rail operators. Limited services with strict measures to ensure social distancing and other mitigation measures, will be introduced.
Long distance trains are still prohibited in Level 4.
Window period for travelling between provinces
Travel between provinces, metropolitan areas and districts is still prohibited, except for workers who have to commute to and from work on a daily basis, attendance of funerals and transportation of mortal remains.
However, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has published regulations allowing a once-off special dispensation for persons who were not at their places of residence before the lockdown period and who could not travel between provinces, metropolitan and district areas during the lockdown, to return to their homes.
Mbalula announced people will be allowed a once-off special to travel will be between 1 May 2020 and 7 May 2020 in line with these regulations.
“Long distance bus and taxi operators are allowed to undertake long distance travel during this window period. Full compliance with the 70% passenger capacity, wearing of masks by all passengers and sanitisation of vehicles at the completion of each journey is a mandatory requirement,” the Minister said.
Servicing of vehicles of personnel performing emergency services will now be permitted under Level 4. This also includes the importation of spares for service purposes and for manufacturing. Emergency spares are also allowed to be on sale, and repairs and fitments to vehicles utilised for emergency and essential services is permitted.
The emergency services and roadside services, including towing services and support with breakdown of vehicles has been allowed.
Drivers’ licence testing centres
Meanwhile, Mbalula announced that the drivers’ licence testing centres and vehicle testing centres will gradually re-open for essential service workers to renew their drivers’ and vehicle licenses.
“The opening of the Driver’s Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) will be staggered once inspection and verification of the state of readiness is done on all of them. The Metro based DLTCs will be opened first from 1 June 2020.
“We will issue directions to limit the daily numbers of people that can be attended to, while restricting bookings to online platforms,” Mbalula said.