“There is really a minimum the government can do, the economy is in deep trouble and we need to reopen it as soon as possible. The most appropriate level to be on is level 0.”
Cape Town – Political analysts and economists said the country’s economic circumstances have backed the government into a corner which will see them announce a move to lockdown level 2.
Several sources within the government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) have confirmed that by the end of this week the country will be on level 2 of the nationwide lockdown.
Economist Mike Schussler said: “There is really a minimum the government can do, the economy is in deep trouble and we need to reopen it as soon as possible. The most appropriate level to be on is level 0.”
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said: “Government is under pressure and what we must remember is that we are not going to level 2 because government says so; it’s because circumstances have forced this to happen. There is no scientific evidence that the lockdown has worked or not.”
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Geoff Jacobs said they fully supported the easing of the lockdown restrictions.
“We have argued for the responsibility to be shifted from government to business owners themselves, so we would welcome a move to level 2, with the necessary health and safety protocols in place. The damage to the economy has been massive, especially with regard to restrictions on the liquor, hospitality and tourism sectors, so opening these up as a matter of urgency is necessary to get the economy back on track,” he said.
Deliberations are under way to have the alcohol and tobacco ban lifted, as the Cape Argus understands the discussions have gone beyond the NCCC and stakeholders have been called in for further discussions.
Sources within the NCCC told the Cape Argus the easing of the lockdown was an attempt to save the battered economy.
They have also said the tobacco ban could no longer be justified which had cost the country billions of rands in tax revenue. President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to address the nation later this week.
The Presidency’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale said: “The president will address the nation once he has been furnished with all the information from experts and Cabinet. We will communicate when the next announcement will be.”
Since the nationwide lockdown in March, the tobacco industry has been involved in a number of litigations against the government. Most recently a case between British American Tobacco South Africa and the government was heard in the Western Cape High Court last week. Judgment was reserved.
It’s a race against time for the government as the National Disaster regulations expire this Saturday.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has said his department was currently making submissions and recommendations to the NCCC.
Recently Mkhize published the criteria that will guide the determination of alert levels in the Government Gazette. According to the gazetted criteria which came into effect upon publication, “the Ministerial Advisory Committee must advise the Minister of Health regarding which alert level should be declared nationally, provincially, in a metropolitan area or district”.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said: “We welcome the confirmation that alert levels could be determined at a provincial, metro or district level.”