Level 3 Basics (Lockdown Day 61)

by | May 26, 2020 | COVID-19, Johannesburg | 22 comments

It’s Day 61 of the South African COVID-19 lockdown, and we’ve officially been at this for two full months. (Our lockdown started on March 27th.) A few days from now we’ll be entering Level 3 of our lockdown, so I think I’ll give a brief update on where things stand.

I’m back on the garden photo train.

COVID-19 Numbers

As of yesterday, there have been 23,615 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa and nearly 12,000 confirmed recoveries. There have been 481 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. The pace of new cases has increased — for the past several days we’ve had at least 1,000 new cases each day.

More than half of the country’s confirmed cases — 15,396 — are in the Western Cape province (where Cape Town is). Gauteng (where Joburg and Pretoria are) accounts for only 2,993 cases, and the numbers in Gauteng are still increasing quite modestly compared to the Western Cape. There is speculation that the Western Cape is doing a lot more testing than Gauteng and this accounts for some of the difference. But still, after two months of lockdown, I’m amazed by how low the COVID-19 numbers are in Joburg and Pretoria.

Many scientists and modellers predict South Africa will start to see an exponential growth in COVID-19 cases and deaths, like any day now. But honestly, who knows?

Level 3

After a month on Level 4, during which a limited number of business and retail sectors were open but everyone was still more or less confined at home, South Africa is moving to Level 3 on June 1st. There will be lots of changes under Level 3, the most notable being:

  1. Nearly all business and retail sectors will reopen, with the exception of restaurants (except delivery and takeaway), bars, hotels (except for essential services accommodation), events and recreational venues, salons, and gyms.
  2. We can buy alcohol again, but only on specific days and specific hours (still to be announced). Cigarettes are still banned indefinitely.
  3. The 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew will be suspended, but everyone is still expected to stay home except for work, school, or some other important reason (i.e. no socializing).
  4. We can exercise at any time of day (but still not in parks).
  5. Schools will reopen, but only grades 7 and 12 will return right away. Universities can only have 33% of their students in class at any one time. (This one sounds confusing — I’m glad I’m not a university student or staff member.)
  6. Domestic workers (and I assume gardeners too, although I can’t find any mention of them) may return to work as long as their employers provide them with private transport.

The summary above is based on President Ramaphosa’s Sunday night speech and the draft Level 3 regulations that were released to the media. The official Level 3 regulations haven’t been announced yet, and as we know from previous experience, things can (and probably will) change.

My thoughts on Level 3 are as follows:

  1. Other than being able to buy alcohol (which I will be doing online for the foreseeable future, as the liquor stores are going to be mobbed) and to go running at any time of day, my own life is not going to change much under Level 3. The borders are still closed. Recreational travel of any kind is still prohibited, along with pretty much all of the other things I usually do.
  2. I’m excited that Lucy, my once-a-week housekeeper, will be able to return to work, mainly because I miss her but also because I hate cleaning and I know Lucy is bored out of her mind and eager to return to work.
  3. I don’t smoke. But like pretty much everyone, I’m enraged by the continuation of the smoking ban. It’s just absurd and unfair and also it’s preventing virtually no one from smoking. Every smoker I know is still finding ways to continue doing so — it’s just costing them more money and encouraging more crime.
  4. It’s crazy that I’ve spent the last several paragraphs ruminating about what people are and aren’t allowed to do. It’s surreal that my entire life — and the lives of every single person in South Africa, and much of the world — now revolves around a strange, sometimes arbitrary list of rules.
  5. As time goes on, I find it increasingly difficult to stay focused on the reason why all these rules and regulations exist: the potentially deadly virus that’s spreading around the earth. I know, on an intellectual level, that I should be afraid of contracting the coronavirus and afraid for others to contract it. But my obsession with “the rules” and all the real-world implications of those rules has taken precedence over everything else. It’s bizarre and unsettling in a way that I can’t quite put into words.

A couple of other random observations:

  1. Unless I have a specific reason to go out (which is rare), I’ve officially ceased to wear any clothing other than pyjamas and workout attire. I usually don’t bother with underwear because it just makes more laundry.
  2. Has anyone else noticed that reading online recipes is maddeningly difficult? Like, you scroll and scroll through all this useless narrative, ads, videos, photos of the finished product from every angle, and links to other recipes, and the actual instructions for making the thing don’t appear until about ten pages down, if at all?
  3. It’s officially cold in Joburg and I’m very sad about this.
  4. New Girl and Schitt’s Creek are great shows to watch on Netflix when you don’t want to use your brain at all, don’t want to feel scared or sad, but also don’t want to be bored.
  5. I really like figs with cheddar cheese.
Figs and cheese
The item above was just an excuse to post this picture, which I shot last weekend when it was still warm enough to eat outside.

That is all.

Today’s Worthy Cause

My friend Xolani Moyo, a.k.a. Coach X, is helping organize a fundraiser for Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa.

Migrants from neighboring African countries are among the most vulnerable people in South Africa, even at the best of times, and under lockdown the situation is even more dire. Foreigners are not eligible for any of the emergency government aid (including food parcels) being offered to mitigate the economic effects of the lockdown.

If you’d like to contribute to Xolani’s initiative, please click on this GoFundMe campaign.

22 Comments

  1. Nancy McDaniel

    If you can find the TV series The Good Fight (which is a spin-off of The Good Wife), watch it. It’s brilliant (and VERY political, which I LOVE!)

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Oh yes I’ve heard that’s good!

      Reply
  2. Arthur Godbeer

    https://sacoronavirus.co.za/covid-19-risk-adjusted-strategy/
    If you look at para N of that doc, you’ll see that gardening services (companies) are first allowed at level 3. But not casual gardeners, they are level 2. (Items in a different colour indicate a change from the previous higher level.) But I’m afraid that your Lucy, not being live-in, can also only return at level 2. But levels 3 and 2 are not yet gazetted, some things could change before implementation.
    Arthur

    Reply
  3. Arthur Godbeer

    I can’t see my previous comment where I said that gardeners and non live-in domestics are at level 2. But I have now read your comment about the President’s comment about domestics. I can’t remember that but I hope that it is so and will be part of the official level 3.
    Arthur

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Hi Arthur, if you look at the (kind of long) Daily Maverick article I posted, it says domestics will be allowed to come to work if their employers provide private transport. But I guess everything is still a bit up in the air.

      Reply
  4. Arthur

    It was your comment about domestics in your post, to which I was referring. I’ve now looked at a transcript of the President’s speech but I can’t find anything in it about domestics. I guess we’ll know more tomorrow.

    My earlier (now missing) comment gave a link to the level details. Para “N” covers gardening services (companies) in 3 and gardeners (casual) in 2. (An item in a different colour means a change from the previous level.) But none of that is gazetted yet, so anything can happen. 😏

    https://sacoronavirus.co.za/covid-19-risk-adjusted-strategy/

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I just had to approve your comment — it’s there now 🙂

      Reply
  5. Arthur

    Ah. I’ve found it. The bit about domestics if you provide transport. In the draft level 3 regs. But gardeners are at present definitely level 2. And my garden is a proverbial jungle! But I have been paying my once a week gardener since 26 March.
    Apologies for hogging your post’s comments.
    Arthur

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Hahaha it’s ok. That makes no sense about the gardeners!

      Reply
  6. Catrina

    Cheddar cheese and fresh figs require good red wine. So happy you can buy wine again!
    Lucy will be happy to see you too. The only hassle will be that you’ll have to wear ”proper” clothes. 😊

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Hahaha. Well Lucy won’t care what I wear but I suppose you’re right 😂

      Reply
  7. AutumnAshbough

    I will be glad to hand the cleaning off to someone else again. Someday.

    Reply
  8. Margaret Urban

    Letting up to 33% of students back on university campuses is to help those students who are unable to make the online virtual teaching work for them. One of my son’s students at UCT is battling to keep up while living in a township in Mpumalanga with 7 family members in two rooms, to say nothing of data costs. The needy students will be housed and fed etc on campuses and continue with online learning; everyone is expected to continue paying fees anyway.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yeah, I figured that’s the reason. It just seems really complicated!

      Reply
      • Margaret Urban

        Yah, really tough both for lecturers, whose work load has often increased, and students; and the students have to somehow find fares and transport to travel back safely….

        Reply
  9. eremophila

    On points 4and5 about level 3, perhaps what you’re experiencing is starting to see the amount of programming we all encounter, and eventually begin to question. It’s confusing at first.

    Reply
  10. catji

    wow “well said” 😉 points 3,4,5.

    Reply
  11. David Bristow

    The funny thing about all the rules is that, as with most rules, there is some “good” reason that led someone with the authority to implement it (domestics, gardeners, students, all that stuff). In the end I suspect the lesson the world will learn from coronavirus is that most of these rules help no one. The only legitimate reason for a lock-down is to prevent overloading of the medical system. But the harm it will do to the world, mainly the poor people and all those who cannot afford to live for more than a month without income, will devastate us for years to come.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yeah. It’s so hard to know what’s right.

      Reply
  12. Eva Melusine Thieme

    So agree with you on recipe scrolling. And that always reload when you just want to read the next step. I now just copy the whole thing into a word file and go from there.

    Also, another recommendation while we’re on Netflix: Dead to me. Great characters and plot twists.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yes! I’ve also watched Dead to Me – love it. Copying the recipe to another file is a great idea. I’m definitely going to do that.

      Reply

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