South African Police Minister Bheki Cele said people won’t be allowed to exercise outside their homes during a three-week lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, contradicting earlier comments by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
“There are no dogs that should be walked,” Cele told reporters in the capital, Pretoria, on Wednesday. “Just walk around your house.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on March 23 that the lockdown will come into effect at midnight on Thursday. He said people will only be allowed to leave their homes to go shopping for food, collect welfare grants and seek medical care — unless they provided an essential service.
About 16 million people commute daily on congested trains and minibus taxis, and the government wants to reduce their risk of contracting the coronavirus and transmitting it.
Mkhize said in an interview the South African Broadcasting Corp. earlier on Wednesday that “there shouldn’t be a problem” if people want to exercise on their own. The government aims to prevent large numbers of people from moving around and coming into contact with each other, he said.
Mkhezi told reporters the government had since rethought its position and decided that allowing people to exercise outside their homes “does not add any value in implementing the lockdown.”
The number of confirmed infections in South Africa rose 28% to 709 by late Tuesday, though there haven’t been any fatalities. Five people have recovered and most others are doing well, with just two in intensive care.
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