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Cape Town calls for drastic cut in shopping hours to enforce lockdown

People walk down a street in Langa township as a 21-day lockdown takes effect in Cape Town. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM
People walk down a street in Langa township as a 21-day lockdown takes effect in Cape Town. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM

Shopping hours should be reduced to between 9am to 1pm daily to help police enforce coronavirus lockdown.

The City of Cape Town is calling on the government to refine the lockdown regulations, including limiting grocery shopping hours to make implementation easier for the police and military.

Any person found on the street may plausibly claim to be out for the purposes of shopping for food, said JP Smith, the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, reports BusinessLIVE.

“It is impossible for the police, whether SAPS, SANDF, Metro Police to truthfully determine whether a person is entitled to be on the street or not,” he said.

SA started a three-week-long nationwide lockdown on Friday morning in a bid to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus. However, there is growing concern that many people, especially in townships, are ignoring the regulations and not adhering to any social distancing.

The pandemic has caused pandemonium across the globe, bringing  economies to a standstill and stretching medical facilities.

Smith said the government should amend the regulations to limit the hours of shopping at shopping malls, as well as spaza and tuck shops, to between 9am to 1pm daily.  Currently grocery stores can remain open until 6pm during weekdays and 5pm at the weekend.

The city also asked the government to limit the number of people who may be out shopping daily. It suggested an “alphabet shopping model” that would allow specific surnames to go out on specific days to shop to limit the number of shoppers and  help  police enforce the lockdown.

The city is also calling for the government to reconsider its stance on the deployment of neighbourhood watch committees. Smith said there are thousands of well-trained neighbourhood watches in Cape Town who could assist in fighting crime. He said criminals had now changed their “modus operandi to take advantage of the lockdown”. 

“These neighbourhood watches would also be able to assist as credible messengers to encourage communities to comply with the regulations and stay indoors,” Smith said, adding that the country does not have nearly enough resources to enforce the lockout without the help of civil society.

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