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Businesses fear being in dark on further possible restrictions due to Omicron variant

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Business associations have raised concerns about the new Omicron Covid-19 variant that has been discovered in South Africa, calling for the government to collaborate with them.

File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

BUSINESS associations have raised concerns about the new Omicron Covid-19 variant that has been discovered in South Africa, calling for the government to collaborate with them before taking any major decisions with regards to any further restrictions in a possible fourth wave.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa), the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) and the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) have noted that businesses have suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic and are looking to support them in their recovery.

Cas Coovadia, the CEO of Busa, said further lockdown and severe restrictions on different parts of the economy would cause tourism businesses, especially, to suffer.

“The travel ban is a substantial blow to the tourism industry, just as the industry was beginning to see some signs of improvement. We are trying to pick up our economy after Covid and this will put a dampening impact on that.

“Ultimately, what we are trying to do is impress upon the government that before they take any decisions on restricting any parts of the economy they talk to us, so that we manage this together and we don’t hear about this on TV for the first time.

“I think it’s absolutely important for business and government to manage these things together so that we limit the economic impact, we limit the health impact, we share each other’s data so that we have the best data available,” said Coovadia.

Sacci CEO Alan Mukoki said: “We are worried that rising infections may lead to further restrictions on businesses. Businesses will always be affected because they must shut down early, we can’t export, borders are closing all around us, so this is a very significant development.”

Mukoki said that business confidence will be affected by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity because they can’t plan ahead of time.

“We need to encourage businesses not to be afraid, because in the final analysis, we can only conquer this pandemic if we work together. The world is closing down, we are on our own, so we need to work better together.

“We as business people need to be forthright in terms of communicating very clearly to the government, or assisting the government, where we see there are gaps, and assisting with our own employees by getting them vaccinated,” said Mukoki.

Basa CEO Patricia Pillay has said they are concerned over rumours of a possible alcohol ban, adding that: “The industry is only now starting to recover and looking forward to December trade, with the festive season being the busiest time for the tourism industry which the alcohol industry relies on.”

Pillay said Basa was committed to ensuring the safe consumption of alcohol and wanted the government to include the industry in decision-making.

“Basa continues to call for proper consultation by the government before considering any new regulations to stop the spread of Covid-19 over the coming festive season,” said Pillay.

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