As millions of South Africans return to work, you may be feeling a little nervous, if you are using public transport. The congested hustle and bustle of travelling crammed into taxis, buses and trains isn’t a model that screams social distancing.
Despite these inherent dangers, there are still plenty of precautions and restrictions on public transport under Alert Level 3, which will help prevent the virus spreading even though people need to get to work.
Taxis and buses (including interprovincial long-distance services) can now operate throughout the day, but not yet at full capacity.
Minibus taxis may not carry more than 70% of their allowed capacity. Buses, e-hailing and metered taxis, shuttle, chauffeur and charter services may not carry more than 50% of their capacity.
Keep it local
While interprovincial travel is now allowed, you may only do so under certain conditions., Mainly, you’re allowed to travel for work, business or school activities permitted under Alert Level 3.
More specifically, you can travel between provinces if you’re moving house, caring for an immediate family member, attending a funeral or transporting mortal remains, going for medical treatment, or returning from quarantine or an isolation facility.
As is the rule in any public spaces, commuters using public transport must wear a cloth face mask – or another appropriate item – that covers the nose and mouth.
No more spray booths
For a short while, it looked like walking through a cloud of disinfectant before boarding a taxi was just the new normal. Fortunately, that’s not the case, as the World Health Organisation has advised against using sanitation booths, and government has heeded that advice.
Staggered work times
Medium and large businesses have been asked to stagger their shifts, to avoid too many people gathering at the same time. This should also translate into less congestion on public transport.
Another measure to help with this would be large companies arranging private transport for their staff: this also makes it easier to ensure that the correct capacity, mask and distancing protocols are adhered to.
The best way to protect yourself if you’re using public transport is to cover up and stay vigilant. Even if it means getting to work later, it just makes sense to avoid overcrowded public places and services.