Photo: GCIS / Flickr
Photo: GCIS / Flickr
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of moving the country to Alert Level 1 of the lockdown has no doubt prompted much reaction, including from various political parties. While for the most part, the newly-ease restrictions have been welcomed, there are still some concerns.
Some key changes under level 1 include the lifting of the curfew to 12:00-04:00 and normal liquor trading hours. Gatherings including political, religious and social are also permitted – however should maintain the necessary health protocols.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it welcomes the lockdown shift and that the primary focus for now should be on the vaccination rollout programme.
“While we welcome tonight’s announcement, it has to be said that it comes too late for thousands of businesses owners and their employees who have lost their livelihoods due to these ongoing restrictions. Without the means to assist affected businesses, government’s decision to shut down the entire hospitality and tourism sector cannot be justified. These businesses were effectively forced by government to shut their doors, with almost no access to financial relief,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen further said that it was imperative that the lockdown does not become “the new load shedding” and emphasised the need to rebuild the economy, which was undoubtedly battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“…switching them on and off and moving up and down between levels as our situation changes. Our economy cannot withstand these fluctuations and, more than anything else, business owners require some level of predictability and stability if they are to be able to plan ahead,” he said.
The United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Bantu Holomisa seemed to echo Steenhuisen’s sentiments and stressed that South Africans must not let their guard down and disregard the COVID-19 preventative measures.
Holomisa said in the meantime, they needed to convince the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to look at the state of readiness ahead of the local government elections. Ramaphosa had said during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the elections, scheduled for any time between August and November 2021, would go ahead as planned.
This is in light of political gatherings being allowed.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said it was a prudent decision and a fine balancing act for the country. The IFP’s Nkhuleko Hlengwa said it was important to get the economy running and restoring a sense of normality.
“If you listened to the budget speech last week, we are in dire straits and so it is important to find that balance…we are of course calling on South Africans to understand that the pandemic is still with us,” Hlengwa further said.