As Covid-19 infections and the death toll continued to rise in the Western Cape on Friday, the province’s premier, Alan Winde, said the exercise regulations for the level 4 lockdown “lacks common sense”.
This after many Capetonians – who made use of the relaxed regulations allowing walking, jogging and cycling between 06:00 and 09:00 – descended on public spaces, like the Sea Point promenade.
This raised questions about the adherence to physical distancing in a province with the highest number of recorded Covid-19 infections.
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A 13:00 on Friday, the Western Cape had recorded 2 536 confirmed cases, according to a statement from Winde.
This is 165 cases more than the day before.
Two more people also died, bringing the death toll in the province to 48.
There were 696 recoveries recorded in the Western Cape, taking active cases to 1 792, with 106 people hospitalised, 35 of them in intensive care units.
Winde said Friday was the first day of level 4 restrictions.
“Many residents in the Western Cape, just like the rest of the country, took up the opportunity to exercise in line with these new regulations promulgated by the national minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.”
These regulations allow residents to exercise within a 5km radius of their homes between 06:00 and 09:00.
“In many of the country’s high-density cities, abiding by these regulations during a set time has resulted in high levels of congregation in public spaces.
“This is the unfortunate result of regulations which, I am afraid, were not thought through and regrettably lack common sense.”
Winde said the medical and scientific reason for the lockdown had been to limit gatherings to slow the spread of Covid-19.
“By forcing residents to only exercise during a set time period, we are forcing congregation.
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“Furthermore, little consideration was given to the fact that sunrise is later in the Western Cape as we approach winter, therefore providing an even smaller window of time for a large number of people to exercise in line with the new regulations.
“We need a common-sense approach in our response to Covid-19. The Western Cape government will, therefore, petition the national minister to provide for additional times for exercise during daylight hours so that we can drastically reduce the volumes of people exercising at any one point.”
Winde said cardiovascular exercises were an important part of a healthy lifestyle and had a positive impact on lung health.
“We should encourage healthy lifestyle choices and allow residents of the Western Cape to take responsibility for themselves by practicing social distancing and wearing their masks while exercising.”
He also requested residents of the province to do everything possible to avoid any gathering.
“You must keep your distance from others. You must exercise alone. You must wear a cloth mask, and be sure to follow the golden rules of hygiene at all times.
“If you are not feeling well, you must not leave your home at all. This is important. Please first call the provincial hotline on 021 928 4102 for advice on what you should do next.”