santacoSowetanLive reports that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has amended regulations governing public transport during the lockdown to extend taxi operating hours and allow them to carry up to 100% of their passenger capacity — provided passengers wear masks.  

The changes were published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday.  Taxi associations, upset at the financial implications of running half-empty vehicles, threatened a shutdown earlier in the week.  Essential services workers and the elderly, needing transport to collect social grants, were left stranded in parts of the country when taxis refused to operate.  The gazetted amendments state, amongst other things, that public transport will be permitted to ferry essential-services workers from 5am to 10am and from 4pm to 8pm.  During the lockdown period minibuses will be allowed to carry 70% of their maximum licensed passenger seating capacity — if passengers have no face masks.  Taxis were previously restricted to carrying 50% of capacity.  Vehicles can now operate at 100% capacity “on condition that all passengers are wearing masks”.  Santaco spokesperson Theo Malele said the association welcomed the new regulations.

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