Buses, minibus taxis, and other taxes, including Uber and Bolt, will be barred from the roads except between 5am and 9am and 4pm and 8pm – and only if they are carrying essential workers and “those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements”.

This last category refers to people needing to travel to buy essential goods, visit a doctor or tend to a sick relative.

Vehicles licensed for eight people may only carry three; cars licensed for four people may only carry one.

These are among the strict rules to apply from midnight. The imminent lockdown comes as South Africa’s positive coronavirus cases continue to rise, going up to 709 from 554 on Tuesday.

The regulations say retailers allowed to stay open for the next 21 days will be limited to selling only essential goods. They must also ensure that consumers keep one metre from one another.

No airlines, domestic or international, except those carrying cargo, will be allowed to operate, and all cargo will be sanitised.

All border posts will be closed to the movement of people. Goods will continue to move in and out.

Minerals and energy minister Gwede Mantashe told journalists yesterday that, because of anticipated low demand, he didn’t expect there to be any loadshedding during the lockdown.

In other virus-related news

  • Business Insider reports that, with an estimated 20% of the world’s population under some form of lockdown, only South Africa and New Zealand have banned prepared-food deliveries. South Africans will only be allowed to buy groceries for making meals at home;
  • Italy this week received more reassuring evidence that its coronavirus infection rate was slowing thanks to a painful lockdown, AFP reported. Having set a world record of 793 fatalities on Saturday, officially registered new infections rose just 8% on Tuesday, the same as Monday, and the lowest level since Italy registered its first death on February 21. The death rate had been running at as high as 50% at the start of March;
  • Prince Charles has tested positive, and he and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are self-isolating at their home in Scotland. The Prince of Wales’ office said: ‘He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.’; and
  • South African authorities are investigating 30 cases of so-called price gouging on price-controlled essentials such as hand sanitisers, masks and toilet paper during the coronavirus outbreak, according to acting commissioner of the National Consumer Commission Thezi Mabuza. Eleven certificates have been issued to supermarkets.

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