Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says domestic flights will be allowed to operate under lockdown Level 3 under strict health standards. He was briefing the media virtually in Pretoria on lockdown directives related to transport on Saturday.

He says the government is committed to preserving human life above all else, as enshrined in the Constitution.

The Minister later clarifies that as from Monday, domestic airline travel will be limited to business travel.

“Monday is the first. It means aviation domestic flights are opened but limited. I have explained to you which are the lines that are going to be open in that travel of the domestic limited service. It does not mean it’s ‘wonke wonke’. Everybody is free to fly up and down. It’s business. You can fly to Cape Town but where will you sleep?”

Mbalula says the department has taken advisories by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health Department not to use sanitising booths for health reasons.

Learners are expected to go back to school while many workers are also expected to go back to work as the country moves to lockdown Level 3 from 1 June as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The level allows for the reopening of schools and many industries.

As the country moves to Level 3, Mbalula says the transport sector needs to be responsive in order to allow the mobility of workers and learners.

“The consultations we have held with industry bodies, across various modes of transport, have given us confidence that the majority of the sector is ready to resume operations with strict adherence to health protocols,” the minister said.

In the video below, Fikile Mbalula briefs the media on transport operations under lockdown Level 3:

Aviation

Mbalula says limited domestic flights will be allowed for business travel. The roll out of the domestic flights will be informed by the following:

  • Port Health capacity at the golden triangle airports (OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and the Cape Town International Airport);
  • Initial period will also serve as a trial period to stress test the system and measures to determine if they are holding up or not.
  • Lanseria Airport to arrange Port Health Capacity and government to certify it before any flight is allowed to take off or land.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has developed guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during aviation activities.

Limited domestic air travel also means that flights will only be allowed to depart and land at selected airports.

“Only passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings. Therefore, no accompanying members of the public will be allowed inside the terminal buildings. Temperature screening will be conducted at the terminal building entrances, before any passenger is allowed entry. No passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings without masks,” Mbalula said.

Santisation will be carried out at airports and passengers will be required to maintain a 1.5 metres social distance.

Passengers are encouraged to use self-check-in to avoid queues at the airport.

No catering or magazines will be offered on the flights.

Public transport

Mbalula says travel time restrictions have been lifted, allowing public transport to operate throughout the day. However, carrying capacities remain with minibus taxis still required to carry at a 70% capacity while buses, e-hailing and metered taxis, and shuttle services are required to carry at a 50% capacity.

Mbalula says long distance public transport crossing provincial, metropolitan or district boundaries will be allowed to operate. The travel will, however, be allowed for the following people:

  • Those working in industries permitted in Level 3, provided they are in have the right permit;
  • Those moving to a new place of residence;
  • Those caring for an immediate family member;
  • Learners or students who have to commute to and from those schools or institutions of higher learning during periods when those schools or institutions are permitted to operate.
  • Attendance of funerals;
  • Transportation of bodies;
  • Getting medical treatment;
  • Those returning home from a quarantine or isolation facility;
  • Movement of children; and
  • Members of Parliament performing oversight responsibilities.

Rail transport

Mbalula says after evaluations, the transport department has concluded that Prasa is not ready to resume rail services. He says the will continue to monitor the rail service’s state of readiness.

Long distance trains remain prohibited.

Prasa is expected to resume services from 1 July.

Mbalula also says that from 1 June, the Gautrain will resume its airport service.

There will be no changes to the regulations of the movement of ships. The ban on passenger vessels and cruise liners remains in place, and only vessels bringing in cargo are allowed to call on our ports.

However, movement of cargo from sea-ports to its final destination is allowed.

All Drivers’ Licence Testing Centres, Vehicle Testing Centres, and Provincial Regulatory Entities (PREs) will resume their operations on 1 June 2020 under strict health standards.

In the video below, Fikile Mbalula briefs the media on Level 3 transport regulations and guidelines:

Below is the full statement by Minister Fikile Mbalula on the Level 3 lockdown transport regulations.