South African businesses have called for the coronavirus lockdown level 4 to be lifted so that the country can be moved to level 2.
The country is preparing for a further easing and gradual reopening of the economy.
Most of South Africa is likely to move to level 3 lockdown by June 1 while hotspot areas, especially big metros, are likely to remain on level 4 lockdown. The government is likely to review the regulations for level 4 restrictions. For more read: South Africa’s COVID-19 Hotspots To Remain in Level 4
Sandile Zungu, chair of the Black Business Council, said they told Ramaphosa at a meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council on Friday that they would have preferred for the lockdown to be eased further to get the economy going.
“As business collectively we would have loved to move to level 2. We believe it is at level 2 where there will be a major liftoff in the economy,” told the Sunday Times.
Alert level 4 – which is the current level across the country – retains most of the lockdown regulations but permits the gradual opening up of certain parts of the economy. Alert levels 3 to 1 allow for progressively greater relaxation of restrictions.
Martin Kingston, who represents Business SA, said a drop down to level 2 would get the economy fired up.
“There’s no doubt that unless we can move to level 2, the economy is going to suffer increasing damage,” told the Sunday Times.
This week, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that easing the lockdown must be done with extreme caution to prevent the spikes in COVID-19 infections we have seen elsewhere in the world.
Matthew Parks, of labour federation Cosatu, said they were keen on reopening the economy so that workers could return to work and take care of their families.
“You can’t run an economy forever on food parcels and UIF [the Unemployment Insurance Fund]; those things will come to an end,” he told the newspaper.
He said they were worried about how workers would get to work. “You can have a safe workplace and all that but if workers are being packed like sardines into trains and taxis then you defeat the objective.”
As of yesterday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa is 14 355 with 831 new cases.
The Eastern Cape and Western Cape combined comprise 91% of the new 831 cases.
“I am sure many South Africans are eagerly looking forward to a return to normality, albeit a ‘new normal,'” said Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your tenacity, stoicism and true partnership with government. Together we succeeded in flattening the curve, which facilitated ramping up and cohesion of our health care system as well as preparation of our spaces as we resume our economic and social development.”
He added that a few examples are that we have screened more than 10, 7 million citizens, and we now have 376 sites identified for quarantine nationally with 30 823 quarantine beds.
“Significantly our mortality rate, 1.8%, remains well below the global average which is currently 6.6% and our recovery rate is 42.4%, above the global average of 38%.
“The process of easing lockdown regulations is a highly consultative one where various stakeholder inputs are taken into account to influence implementation.”