“In a time of distance”
The unexpected always happens in the way
The unexpected has always occurred:
While we are doing something else,
While we are thinking of altogether
Different things — matters that events
Then show to be every bit as unimportant
As our human concerns so often are;
And then, with the unexpected upon us,
We look at one another with a sort of surprise;
How could things possibly turn out this way
When we are so competent, so pleased
With the elaborate systems we’ve created —
Networks and satellites, intelligent machines,
Pills for every eventuality — except this one?

And so we turn again to face one another
And discover those things
We had almost forgotten,
But that, mercifully, are still there:
Love and friendship, not just for those
To whom we are closest, but also for those
Whom we do not know and of whom
Perhaps we have in the past been frightened;
The words brother and sister, powerful still,
Are brought out, dusted down,
Found to be still capable of expressing
What we feel for others, that precise concern;
Joined together in adversity
We discover things we had put aside:
Old board games with obscure rules,
Books we had been meaning to read,
Letters we had intended to write,
Things we had thought we might say
But for which we never found the time;
And from these discoveries of self, of time,
There comes a new realisation
That we have been in too much of hurry,
That we have misused our fragile world,
That we have forgotten the claims of others
Who have been left behind;
We find that out in our seclusion,
In our silence; we commit ourselves afresh,
We look for a few bars of song
That we used to sing together,
A long time ago; we give what we can,
We wait, knowing that when this is over
A lot of us — not all perhaps — but most,
Will be slightly different people,
And our world, though diminished,
Will be much bigger, its beauty revealed afresh.

 

Source: Alexander McCall Smith

While the City appealed to the public to limit visits to the beaches last week, they have seen an increase in beach goers as a result of other public facilities being closed.

“As has now been done in other coastal municipalities across South Africa, we will be closing beaches as from tomorrow morning, 24 March 2020, to limit public contact and to assist our residents with respecting the National Government’s call to practice social distancing.”

Until further notice, beaches along Cape Town’s coastline will be closed for all activities be it on the beach itself or in the water. Thus, as from tomorrow the following are prohibited:
• swimming, surfing, kite-surfing, kayaking, recreational fishing, and any other beach or water-based activity

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented period that calls for greater awareness and interventions.

We have seen around the world how members of the public have flocked to beaches during this critical time and we want to ensure that residents and visitors are not placing themselves at increased risk by congregating in large numbers at beaches.”

Law enforcement will be doing patrols to ensure this restriction is adhered to.

Lifeguards will remain stationed on the beaches to assist the Law Enforcement Department. There will, however, be no flags to indicate demarcated swimming areas, in line with the new regulation.

The Shark Spotting Programme will also be stopping all shifts and no Shark Spotters will be on duty at any beaches as of 17:00 this evening, Monday 23 March 2020.

“We need to practice social distancing if we are going to limit the impact of the COVID-19 virus. If we do not practice social distancing the impact of this virus will be far worse.

Our Disaster Risk Management staff will continue with their soap hand-out drive in informal settlements, and do loud-hailing in our communities, to draw attention to the serious COVID-19 measures that have been put in place, and how our residents can play their part to limit the spread of the virus.

We are regularly updated by National and Provincial Government about the latest measures to be implemented and are fully supporting them by implementing these measures as quickly as possible.

Please work with us, limit your interaction with others as much as possible, stay indoors if you can, and help us flatten the curve. By working together, we can limit the spread of the virus.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa has dedicated his weekly newsletter to commending South African society as a whole, for showing social solidarity during this corona virus disaster. Ramaphosa, who is due to address the nation later today, reiterated in his email newsletter, the need to change behaviours to contain the virus:

Dear Fellow South African,

There comes a time in the affairs of a country when, in the face of the most formidable of challenges, its very existence as a nation is put to the test.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread at a relentless pace across the globe. As nations of the world we find ourselves in the same fight: to contain the virus, to protect the lives of our people, and to fortify our economies against the inevitable disruption to manufacturing, productivity, growth and employment.

It has been a week since we declared a National State of Disaster as an urgent response to the outbreak and put in place necessary containment measures.

These measures relate to the prohibition of gatherings of more than 100 people, restrictions on people entering the country, the closure of schools, the sale of alcohol and emergency procurement procedures in support of the fight against COVID-19.

The Department of Health, supported by the entire government communications machinery, has led efforts to raise awareness among the general public around screening and detection, prevention, hygiene control and the importance of social distancing.

The manner in which all South Africans have taken charge of not just their own personal health but the health of those around them has been exemplary and heartening. Everywhere we see signs of behavioural change as the nation rallies behind infection control measures.

From filling stations to taxi ranks, from spazas to restaurants, South Africans fully understand the gravity of the situation. Hand-washing is being practiced and hand sanitiser is available in stores and other retail spaces. People are observing the rules restricting large public gatherings. Businesses and workplaces are complying with the regulations in the best interests of their customers and employees.

Last week representatives from all the political parties in Parliament stood united on a public platform to declare their support for the national effort to combat the pandemic. At the same time, they offered practical and workable suggestions on how we can mitigate its impact on lives and livelihoods.

In the same week, religious leaders representing a multiplicity of faiths and denominations also affirmed their support, taking bold and far-reaching decisions to contain the spread of the virus in churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. They did so fully understanding that no matter how sensitive and difficult these decisions are, the sanctity of life must be preserved.

Corporate South Africa and the business community have stepped up, affirming their support for the emergency measures and regulations, and opening channels of engagement around the economic impact of COVID-19. Yesterday, I met with representatives of the business community to discuss measures we need to take together to combat the pandemic and address its economic impact.

Elsewhere, large retailers have issued directives restricting the purchase quantities of in-demand items to curtail so-called ‘panic buying’. This measure was a laudable effort to protect the rights of ordinary South Africans, but most especially the poor. It is also a welcome sign that South African business will not engage in unscrupulous profiteering from a national disaster.

This week I will be meeting with different arms of the state, trade unions, traditional leaders, civil society formations and other sectors. I have no doubt that they too are already mobilised and united behind the national effort.

What we are witnessing is social solidarity in action, a defining feature of our nationhood. At times of crisis such as this one, it would be easy to surrender to the impulses of opportunism, greed and naked self-interest. History bears witness to the dark side of human nature that can be exposed when fear and panic takes hold.

But as the South African nation we are standing firm. As we navigate our way through the difficult times that lie ahead, we must continue in the spirit of empathy and selflessness and move with unity of purpose. The social compacts of which I have spoken are needed now as never before. Of these, the social compact between citizens and their government is the most important of all.

I am a firm believer in the people. I also believe, as Abraham Lincoln once said, that “if given the truth, [the people] can be depended upon to meet any national crisis”.

We know the truth and what is to be done. We have to contain the spread of the virus. We have to ensure those who need help get it. We have to observe the highest standards of hygiene and practice social distancing.

Our success relies on the effort and energies of every citizen and their commitment to help and assist others.

This crisis will not debilitate our nation. In how we have responded, we have affirmed the true character of our nationhood. It is strong, it is resilient and, above all, it is rooted in solidarity.

It is these attributes of our national character that won us our democracy and it is what will ensure our victory over this pandemic.

With best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa

As part of its COVID-19 mitigation measures, the City of Cape Town has decided to temporarily close the Green Point Park as well as the Company’s Garden in the Central Business District.

Both are popular facilities, with the Green Point Park attracting more than one million visitors per year from across the city and tourists.

After much deliberation, taking into account the high volumes of visitors to these facilities, the City has decided to temporarily close them in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Our Property Management Department has been in contact with the lessees of the tea gardens at both facilities to make arrangements that will soften the impact of the loss of business as a result.

We will continuously assess the situation and will inform the public accordingly.

We know that this will prove inconvenient for some of our residents. But in the interest of containing this highly contagious virus and for the protection of all our residents, we trust our residents will understand the need for these measures.

The City would also like to indicate to residents that many public open spaces like community parks and beaches cannot be closed. Lifeguards will remain on duty at designated beaches to respond in the case of any water-related emergencies.

Furthermore, we appeal to the public to limit their use of these facilities as far as possible, bearing in mind the advice that has been dispensed around mitigation measures for the spread of COVID-19.

Should people insist on visiting a park or the beach, we ask that they keep their distance from others and practice the good hygiene habits that have been circulated around handwashing and coughing/sneezing etiquette.”

Numerous resources have been made available to the public regarding COVID-19. These include:

The NICD Hotline on 0800 029 999 operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day
• The Western Cape Provincial Government Hotline on 021 928 4102
• https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
• https://www.westerncape.gov.za/dept/health
• www.nicd.ac.za
• WhatsApp: 0600 123 456

Government has announced strict new regulations to prevent price gouging during the coronavirus crisis.

According to new regulations as part of the Disaster Management Act, signed by minister of trade and industry Ebrahim Patel on Thursday, companies are not allowed to hike prices for a list of goods by more than the increases in the cost to produce these products.

They are also not allowed to hike their profit margins on these products to above the average mark-ups during the three months to 1 March 2020.

The list of products includes:

toilet paper
hand sanitiser
facial masks
disinfectants and cleaners
surgical gloves
surgical masks
disinfectant wipes
antiseptic liquids
all-purpose cleaners
baby formula
disposable nappies
bleach
cooking oils
wheat flour
rice
maize meal
pasta
sugar
long-life milk
canned and frozen vegetables
canned, froze and fresh meat, chicken or fish
bottled water

Prices for private medical services relating to the testing, prevention and treatment of the coronavirus will also be covered by the new regulations.

Culprits could face fines of up to R1 million or 10% of a firm’s turnover, and imprisonment for up to 12 months.

Suppliers must also ensure the “equitable distribution” of goods to consumers and customers, including small businesses, and must also maintain adequate stocks of goods.

South Africa has seen scenes of widespread panic buying in recent day.

The new regulations also mention that maximum prices could be set on private medical goods and services relating to the testing, prevention and treatment of Covid-19.