South Africans are making the most of the easing of lockdown restrictions under Level 4 from today.
On the Sea Point Promenade, Cape Town residents were out in force, revelling in being permitted to walk, cycle and run between 6am and 9am, within a 5km radius of your house – as long as you wear a mask, practise social distancing and do not do so in organised groups.
This was reportedly also the case on the Strand and Durban beachfronts as well as along the Garden Route in the Western Cape, where residents in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay took full advantage after largely being confined to their homes for five weeks.
Concern was expressed that physical distancing was not being adhered to on the Sea Point Promenade, with a Twitter user, commenting on the mass of bodies making the most of the sunshine, saying: "All it takes is for someone to brush your arm."
Sea point promenade this morning. I have no words pic.twitter.com/B8o1l9BZBb— Unity Ruiters (@MrsRuiters) May 1, 2020
Another Twitter user posted: "You just have to look at the scenes on Sea Point Promenade this morning to know the 3-hour window could increase the spread of Covid-19."
A social media user was also perplexed by the scenes on the Sea Point Promenade, posting: "What about all the very scenic roads around Sea Point? Why do people HAVE to walk on the promenade? I don't understand how people saw the crowds and didn't immediately leave."
The Strand beachfront was also crowded this morning on the first day of Level 4 lockdown regulations. Picture: SABC
Amy Laird has started a petition on change.org to extend the hours, arguing: "The level 4 exercise conditions announced are unfair for many people, and unnecessary.
"Allowing exercise only during the 3 hours between 6am and 9am mean that anyone who starts work at 8am is unlikely to be able to exercise as they may need to travel to work, shower and get ready before doing so. In addition, the sunrise is only after 7am each day and many people do not want to run in the dark.
%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/Level4Restrictions?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Level4Restrictionswhich allows for morning exercise. It's hard to tell we are in a pandemic from this. People have flooded the promenade. @News24 @TeamNews24 #COVID__19 pic.twitter.com/Gbr0YYr961
— Kaveel Singh (@kaveels)
"In fact, it may be unsafe to run in the dark between 6am and 7am considering the increasing number of people who have no income and who may be forced to resort to crime. This effectively cuts the window to less than 2 hours. Especially as we approach winter with sunrise occurring later each day.
"The rationale of getting everyone out at the same time seems counterintuitive to and doesn’t make sense. Surely, to further promote distancing, it is better to allow people to do their exercise over the course of the day and not try to cram everyone into what is effectively a 2-hour window of sunlight.
"There is no increased risk to the spread of the virus if a person runs or cycles at 8am versus runs or cycles at 3pm. In terms of what we are trying to prevent (the spread of the virus) it makes no difference. If anything, it may decrease the risk having people spread out at times that suit them.
Some Khayelitsha residents were up at sunrise to make the most of the brief exercise window under Level 4 lockdown rules. Video: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency
"In this time of uncertainty and sacrifice, I think most people can get behind some of the measures and restrictions we have been asked to follow.
"For many, exercise is a pressure release, a mental break from this situation and an endorphin release which makes us feel better. Allowing all people access to this over the course of the whole day will mean more people are accepting of the other restrictions in place.
"People who exercise are healthier, with a stronger immune system, and therefore more likely to be able to fight the virus. Therefore we should allow as much low-transmission-risk exercise as we can."