If you go to any public space– the space that is all around us where we commute, run errands, and meet friends, family and others - the new social distancing measures may make you feel like you’ve become part of some strange social experiment.
“One reason is that the public spaces like Sandton Central are usually lively, social and all about connecting. For now, the way we need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic goes against the very essence of community and, in particular, vibrant city life. Right now, the normal definition of a leading public space has changed,” explains Sandton Central Management District Improvement Manager Elaine Jack.
While there is much awareness around being safe to curtail the spread of the virus, actually doing what is needed can be tricky. Sandton Central has identified seven actions that we can all take to support the health of one another and our communities in public spaces during the different levels of lockdown. To support health-minded practices, Elaine shares these seven practices to help us all, whether we are in Sandton Central’s public spaces, or elsewhere.
- Follow regulations and recommendations
It’s important to sustain our efforts to connect to the wider COVID-19 response. As our lockdown levels loosen, we all need to tighten up on mask-wearing, physical distancing, and hand hygiene. For business and public spaces, this includes the thoroughness of cleaning routines and best practices for keeping staff members healthy and sanitising. Sandton Central’s Men in Red are trained in how to prevent its spread of the coronavirus and well informed about changes and permissible behaviour as we move to different lockdown levels so that they can encourage compliance and safety with the users of the space. But keep in mind that it’s up to each one of us to our bit.
- Take care of one another
Now that more people are out and about, the importance of taking care of one another is more important than ever. Please remember that the person you pass in the street may be caring for a vulnerable family member, or even be vulnerable themselves but unable to self-isolate because they need to feed their families. Please stay home if you have any symptoms of sickness, practice hand hygiene, wear a mask, don’t spit in public, and keep a safe social distance. Caring for each other is the key to coming through this. It’s up to each one of us to be safe and mindful of others.
- Flatten the peaks
Morning and evening rush hours are traditionally the time that most people are together in Sandton Central’s public spaces. To avoid crowding it would be best to avoid non-essential public transport trips at these times. If you can, why not take advantage of cycle lanes and commute by bike. In addition, businesses could extend their office hours and stagger start and knock-off times. These are some ways to help reduce peak numbers of people morning and night, and make it easier for everyone to keep a safe distance. As the COVID-19 spreads across the world, governments are touting social distancing as one of the most important responses to limit contagion. As more people return to the public spaces of Sandton Central, we’ve placed heartfelt reminders to stay a safe distance apart at key locations across the precinct.
- Reach out to the vulnerable and support your community
Vulnerable households are at higher risk of the spread of the virus, especially when they are living in close quarters or have no shelter at all. Also, the lockdown has increased the number of economically vulnerable people in our community. The Sandton Central community has already responded to this need with kindness, compassion and generosity in supporting community causes you care about including the #Hope4Alex campaign by Rays of Hope that has been hard at work getting food hampers to vulnerable families across Alexandra. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, our neighbour, Alexandra, has been massively impacted, and the need in this community remains great. Every donation makes a difference. If you can support them, please visit https://raysofhope.co.za/hope4alex/ to find out how to do so.
- Support local businesses
Many small businesses are grappling with the challenges of this environment. If you can, please show your support to help them through this difficult time. Sandton Central has created a COVID-19 resource page at https://sandtoncentral.co.za/covid-19-update, which will link you with local businesses providing COVID-19 essential resources, such as PPE, as well as local testing, transport and other services. In addition, our social media feeds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are choc-a-block full of specials, discounts and promotions from great local businesses that you can really get behind. Supporting local business means keeping local jobs, and we all thrive when our community thrives.
- Be kind
The spread of the pandemic has heaped on the daily stress of many, so respecting others’ safe space and showing you care with a friendly wave can go a long way. This is true for our fantastic Men in Red, cleaners and tourist ambassadors who are keeping Sandton Central safe, clean and welcoming, and we thank them for their tremendous dedication. But it also applies to everyone who keeps our neighbourhood working and enjoyable, from the baristas in our coffee shops to traffic points men and women. We all appreciate kindness and this is an opportunity to find new ways to be kind.
- Hang in there
The situation is difficult for everyone. We miss you and our parks, markets, entertainment and attractions. But, the best interest of all those who live, work, play and visit Sandton Central come first. Keep on doing the right thing. We are in this together and are all motivated to support one another and our community as best we can and continue good health-minded practices. Sandton Central can’t wait to have everyone back when the time is right.