May 1 saw lockdown restrictions lift to Level 4. While coronavirus infection numbers are still alarmingly high, it seems as if people are under the impression they can be more relaxed about the pandemic.
Beaches were crowded with excited South Africans being able to get their first bit of exercise in weeks. Retail stores which had reopened for winter clothing had endless queues of people as if said stores were only going to be open for one day. SA went a little but mad this past Friday. The area in which I live is now as busy as always. And for the first time, I am now more afraid since the pandemic has hit.
All I can do is continue to stay home and keep my family safe, and I implore my fellow South Africans to follow the rules, keep washing your hands, and wear your masks at all times. But with all that said, life does need to return to some kind of 'new normal' - albeit under strict conditions and protocols.
One area of concern is the motoring industry which needs to reopen. Earlier in April Wheels24 contributor Lance Branquinho wrote that reopening the motoring industry is not just about selling cars, but about saving a country's economy.
Branquinho said: "The automotive sector is vitally important to South Africa. Both private and public transport in South Africa is almost exclusively by vehicle, instead of by rail. Even South Africa's logistics network is powered by diesel bakkies and trucking, to a much more significant proportion, than diesel-electric trains."
Image: Kia SA
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has stated designated under section 3 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, (Act No. 57 of 2002), published in the Government Gazette No. 43096 on March 15, 2020, in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act 2002, the following regulations in the schedule has been made: Car sales may resume under specific directions, and emergency auto repairs for all persons may be performed. However, we have no idea what these detailed directions currently entail. We are expecting many businesses to reopen on Monday, May 4, but at this stage we're still not sure what that may entail and if car dealerships will be open for sure.
As soon as we know more, we'll be sure to let you know.
Our Wheels24 mailbox is inundated with emails from our readers, all calling in unison to reopen dealerships, not really to buy vehicles, but to service and maintain their cars. Car services are due, and warranties are expiring despite most manufacturers extending these.
Here's what a few of our readers are saying:
Venetia Schreuder says: "It is essential for dealerships to reopen as we are farmers and our vehicles need to be serviced."
Teboho Mafisa writes: "Reopening dealerships will ease congestion in public transport as some employees who have been postponing the purchase of cars will now find it essential to buy instead of getting congested in public transport where they will eventually contract this coronavirus. The industry also contributes enormously to the GDP and the economy in terms of taxes. I'm a dealer principal at a car dealership, and my company employs about 12 staff members. Most of them are breadwinners in their homes. The industry, therefore, needs to open during level 4 lockdown so we can start getting the economy back on track."
Themba Mtshatsheni says: "My wife is a police officer and she uses her own car to go to work during this lockdown. Her vehicle is due for a service, and skipping services is a great concern for us as she needs her vehicle to be in working order."
We'll see what the new week brings for the automotive industry.
In other news, bakkies did not dominate our top-read stories this week, but a would-have-been SUV from Isuzu, Toyota's new Corolla, and an old Peugeot drop-top. Have a look:
This week's top motoring stories:
1. GBX could have been the SUV of choice over Fortuner if Isuzu pushed through with it
2. Toyota launches new Corolla in SA - Why it took so long for the car to be introduced
3. If there's one car you don't see on the road anymore, its this one
4. REVIEW | SA's most affordable car finally empties its tank - Here's how much distance we covered
5. Volkswagen releases pricing for range-topping 110kW T-Cross R-Line in SA!
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Janine Van der Post is Wheels24's first female motoring editor. When motoring doesn't take up her time, she's also a Mom and a rugby-wife. If you have a question, or a story to share, email her here.