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Boost for economy as SA set to move to Level 1

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Economic sectors beginning to make preparations for what could be the post-Covid-19 new normal

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

MOST economic sectors still restricted by Covid-19 regulations are gearing themselves up for more activity as the country is set to move to Level 1 of the lockdown from midnight on Sunday.

Many of them are also beginning to make preparations for what could be the post-Covid-19 new normal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night addressed the nation on the plans by his administration to further ease the current national lockdown and reopen the economy.

Ramaphosa’s address followed the meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council on Monday and his Cabinet yesterday, where the country’s risk-adjusted approach in combating the Covid-19 spread was discussed.

Last month, Ramaphosa moved the country to lLvel 2 as he announced a decline in Covid-19 transmission rates and emphasised the need to focus on economic recovery efforts.

While most of the economy has been opened, the daily curfew times, which range from 4am to 10pm, have remained in place, along with limits to the sale of alcohol. International travel is still not allowed after it was banned seven months ago.

While various sectors of the economy have been opened through a staggered approach, the State of Disaster’s restrictive regulations have been extended to next month.

The Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee has meanwhile recommended that the regulations be eased further if the lockdown doesn’t end, stating that that infections have significantly declined.

Yesterday, SA’s total confirmed Covid-19 infections or cases stood at 651 521, with an impressive 89% recovery rate at 583 126, while 15 641 deaths from the virus had been confirmed.

The country’s massive spread in recent months has seen it rise to be among the top five countries in the world in terms of positive cases.

This saw the government maintaining restrictions on gatherings which severely affected the entertainment, education and tourism sectors, which are now gearing themselves for increased activity under the new normal during Level 1.

While the rate of infections has declined and with significantly lower deaths compared to other countries with relatively the same number of infections, SA remains in eighth place among countries with the most infections in the world.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said while the resurgence of the virus could not be ruled out, the country had passed the peak of the Covid-19 spread as the daily cases of between 10 000 and 15 000 that were reported at the height of the pandemic had now come down significantly, with 772 new cases reported on Tuesday.

The decline in the spread was also accompanied by a decline in hospital admissions for the virus.

Mkhize also revealed that 32 429 health care workers had contracted the coronavirus, with 257 having died due to the virus.

On Wednesday, Mkhize warned against complacency as the country relaxed regulations and stressed that non-pharmaceutical interventions, including social distancing and masks, had to be continued to minimise chances of infection.