Limited alcohol sales and relaxed curfew: Here’s what voting day under lockdown could look like

The IEC says five voting stations, In KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, had not been open by 5pm on Wednesday as a result of ongoing community protests.
The IEC says five voting stations, In KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, had not been open by 5pm on Wednesday as a result of ongoing community protests.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The health department has published recommendations the government should consider during the local government elections.

The elections are set to take place on November 1, with millions expected to cast their vote.

The recommendations were made by the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee (MAC), late last month, suggesting the curfew should be relaxed and alcohol sales should be limited on election day.

Here’s how your voting day could pan out if the recommendations are approved:

MORE POLICE ON STREETS

The advisory said the role of police to enforce compliance needs to be emphasised. 

“Rallies and house-to-house campaigning in the run-up to the elections might create outbreak clusters and compliance with public health and social measures as well as Covid-19 management requirements needs to be monitored by the Electoral Commission (IEC),” it said. 

YOU CAN STAY OUT LATER

The MAC recommended that limitations on the number of people allowed at gatherings must be applied consistently to all pre-election activities, including rallies and campaign events. 

“However, on election day, such limits and curfews should be relaxed to allow all eligible voters to cast their ballots before midnight,” it said 

YOU MIGHT STRUGGLE TO GET BOOZE

“Consideration should be given to the limitation of alcohol sales on election day,” said the  MAC. 

WORKING AT A VOTING STATION? PREPARE TO BE SCREENED

The MAC said the IEC guidelines should conform with the guidance provided in the advisory as well as applicable occupational health and safety regulations.  

“There should be screening and occupational health and safety rules for staff working at voting stations. For voting stations located at schools, IEC staff should clean up and remove waste materials so there is no need to visit the voting station the following day when normal school can proceed,” it said. 

MASKS, SANITISING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING IN QUEUES

The IEC must enforce all public health and social measures, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, sanitising of hands and increased ventilation in all indoor and outdoor settings. 

“These must be emphasised and clearly communicated to the public and all political parties. These public health and social measures will apply irrespective of whether a member of the public has been vaccinated,” said the MAC. 

NO INKING PENS TO MARK THUMBS

The MAC recommended that fogging is not an effective measure to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and should not be undertaken at voting stations and consideration should be given to providing an alternative to inking pens used to touch the thumbs of multiple voters. 

“The IEC needs to ensure masking, ventilation, sanitisation and other public health and social measures inside stations and in ablution facilities. Police need to ensure adherence to public health and social measures outside voting stations. A Covid-19 compliance officer could be provided together with the electoral officer at each voting station,” it said.

GET THE VACCINE WHILE YOU VOTE

“Efforts to encourage vaccine uptake in the period leading to elections should be increased. Consideration should be given to identifying vaccination opportunities, such as offering vaccinations at voting stations,” said the MAC. 

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