The Lockdown Laws photo series

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If I could press a reset button on 2020 I would. The Covid-19 pandemic rocked the world, shutting down industries, changing the way we live, the way we exist. On 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would be entering into a 21-day lockdown to fight the pandemic. Little did we know at the time how stringent the laws would be. The sale of alcohol and cigarettes was banned; social gatherings of more than 50 people were banned; our international borders were closed; we could only leave the house within a five-kilometre radius between 6-9 am to exercise; a curfew was imposed from 8 pm to 5 am.

This 21-day lockdown was meant to allow the private and public hospitals to prepare for the peak of the outbreak.

Lockdown presented an enormous problem for me – my photography business was starting to gain momentum. After a year of self-employment as a writer, editor and photographer, I was earning a steady income. But lockdown meant I was no longer able to work as a photographer – it was not an essential service.

As lockdown extended, the restrictions became more ridiculous. There was a lot of anger around the restrictions in place here in South Africa; many didn’t make sense. I wanted this series to highlight that. But then I started to read up on the lockdown laws globally. And I realised we weren’t the only country with bizarre restrictions in place.

My Lockdown Laws photo series represents the international laws of lockdown. It was shot in my home, and my husband and I were the subjects because I was unable to, under lockdown, photograph anyone else. Each shot was planned, framed, and then using a tripod, timer and a lot of patience, photographed.

The Lockdown Laws photo series in detail

  1. “When you get time to stay in, stay in. Maintain social distancing, even at night. Don’t come close to each other, no kissing, nothing. Keep a distance. Even in the middle of the night.” – Bheki Cele, South African Minister of Police
  2. “There will be no social distancing at those hairdressers. The people will be in contact with each other. It is too risky to do so. The hairdresser can also give advice online.” – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South African Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  3. “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm – historically, that has been able to kill the virus. [The coronavirus would weaken] when we get into April, in the warmer weather – that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.” – Donald Trump, President of the United States of America
  4. “I don’t drink but recently I’ve been saying that people should not only wash their hands with vodka but also poison the virus with it. You should drink the equivalent of 40-50 millilitres of rectified spirit daily. But not at work.” – Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus
  5. The sale of tobacco products still remains banned in South Africa. The reason? “When people zol, [joint] they put saliva on the paper, and then they share that zol.” –  Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South African Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  6. In France, all people leaving their homes had to carry a signed form, or attestation, explaining where they were headed and why. A different form was needed for each outing. Failure to produce one resulted in a fine.
  7. In the UK, lockdown laws prohibited having family over to visit, but technically you could hire a family member as a handyman or cleaner. Visits to other households were banned except if you were a worker in someone’s home. “There’s a reason we’ve made those rules clear on cleaners and indeed childminders. It’s because an awful lot of people rely for their livelihoods on being cleaners. And of course, they should be socially distanced while doing that work. That’s the purpose of the change – not to allow family members to meet.” – Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary
  8. One of Panama’s measures to combat the spread of coronavirus involved the separation of the sexes. Women could leave their homes to buy necessities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Men were allowed out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
  9. In the UK, no person may participate in a gathering which takes place in a public or private place indoors and consists of two or more persons, which lead to #sexban. “What this is about is making sure we don’t have people staying away from home at night. It is fair to say the transmission risk of coronavirus is much lower in the open air than in internal space, but obviously we do not encourage people to do anything like that outside at this time or any other.” British junior housing minister Simon Clarke
  10. “All our airlines are fitted with HEPA, High Efficiency Particulate Air filters. Because the airline is unlike a taxi – once you’re in it, you fly and therefore for two hours you are compressed inside it. So the filter is able to eat any form of virus including corona virus.” – Fikile Mbalula, South African Minister of Transport
  11. In South Africa, outdoor exercise was limited to between 06h00 and 09h00. Movement is also limited to a 5km radius from home. “If the regulations allow jogging for the whole day, it means that for the whole day police will have to monitor people exercising. But, if there is a prescribed time, they can deal with the issues they are supposed to deal with during the rest of the day.” – Ronald Lamola, South African Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
  12. But, aside from the ridiculous laws and quote, one message that was echoed across the world: if you can work from home, work from home. “Businesses will be encouraged to adopt a work-from-home strategy where possible. All staff who can work remotely must be allowed to do so.” – Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa



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