Ramaphosa accused of lack of lockdown exit plan

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Cape Town – While the news that lockdown restrictions have been eased and the country has to lockdown level 2 has been welcomed, there are still questions over the president’s plans to end the lockdown.

City of Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato and Western Cape Premier Alan Winde welcomed the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of the easing of restrictions to allow the economy to reopen further.

Plato said that this would help the tourism and hospitality sector as a key part of the local economy.

Ramaphosa urged those who remain unvaccinated to get vaccinated as he announced an easing of Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday night.

The president said following consultation and scientific advice, the country would move to risk-adjusted level 2 from today, Monday.

The easing of restrictions means:

  • Curfew is from 11 pm to 4 am.
  • Non-essential establishments like bars and fitness centres need to close by 10 pm.
  • All gatherings will now be limited to 250 indoors, and outdoors will now be limited to 500 people.
  • Where the venue is too small, then no more than 50% of the venue may be used.
  • The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be allowed from 10 am to 6 pm (Monday to Friday).
  • On-site consumption is permitted at licensed establishments.
  • Funerals remain restricted and night vigils remain banned.

Ramaphosa said the measures would be reviewed in two weeks time, along with the behaviour of the virus.

In response to the new regulations, Plato said that the City notes the announcement which further allows the economy to open as the national vaccination drive continues to be rolled out.

“The expanded trading times for businesses will assist in the economic recovery as many businesses have been under severe strain, trying to adapt and survive in these very challenging circumstances.

“We have maintained that the only way to move beyond the pandemic and the national lockdown is to greatly expand the vaccination rollout.

“As seen in the statistics, those who are vaccinated experience greater protection against Covid-19, with significantly lower hospitalisation and death,” said Plato.

“In Cape Town, we are continuing to play our part to assist with the ramping up of the national vaccine rollout after the opening of mass vaccination sites, with 3000 vaccination sites across the country.”

Winde, on the other hand, was less thrilled by the news and reiterated his concern about Ramaphosa’s plan to end the national State of Disaster regulations.

“The move to Adjusted Alert Level 2 is a welcomed first step to assist the country’s economy at a time when desperate action is needed to save jobs.

“This will provide some assistance to the Western Cape’s hospitality sector in particular, which remains an important job creator,” he said.

“However, I am concerned that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not present a concrete plan on when he will end the National State of Disaster.

“Instead, the Disaster was extended for another month by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

“The hard truth is that we cannot be in this State of Disaster forever, and we need to have a frank discussion on how we will continue to manage Covid-19 in the future without relying on this extreme instrument.

“We believe that a new, differentiated management system needs to take into account each province’s capacity to cope. We have learnt how to manage waves effectively in the province, and we continue to have the capacity to do so at the provincial level.”

Winde said he would be engaging with the president on this matter during the National Lekgotla this week, where all nine premiers will be present.

When Winde first made the call to end last week, it drew mixed reactions.

Good MPL Brett Herron said there was a need to continue balancing the ability of the healthcare system to assist those who are infected and need care with the need to re-open the economy as much as possible.

EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego, however, accused Winde of trying to score political points.

“The premier cannot distance himself from a Covid-19 management system of which he has been part and parcel of from inception.

“This premier is not serious about lives and livelihoods. For him, it is all about profits that can be made by the owners of industries. We are still of the conviction that the Covid-19 pandemic and responses to it must be handled by scientists and not pseudo-scientists like Premier Winde,” said Xego.

Winde, in the meantime, was in agreement with the president on the call for all residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Our real-time data analysed by experts make it clear that vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalisation and death caused by severe Covid-19 illness.

“To save lives, to save our summer, and therefore, to save jobs, we all need to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Winde said. – Cape Argus