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Political parties and Cosatu welcome easing of lockdown restrictions, but DA wants more

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The DA has called for an end to the Covid-19 restrictions and the state of disaster in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country will move from adjusted alert Level 3 to 2.

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

POLITICAL parties and labour have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday night to move the country from adjusted alert Level 3 to 2 with effect from Monday.

But the official opposition has called for an end to the restrictions and the state of disaster.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said that while his party welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement of a move to Level 2, it called on the president to go further.

“And while we welcome this easing of restrictions, we call on him to go further and commit to an end date for all lockdown restrictions as well as the state of disaster,” Steenhuisen said.

He also said the only possible reason for any further restrictions would be to allow time for everyone over the age of 18 the chance to get vaccinated.

Steenhuisen said the lifting of restrictions should happen by mid-November.

He also said the deadline needed to be announced so businesses affected by lockdown restrictions could plan accordingly.

“It is not something that can be decided and announced at the last minute, as this would put even more businesses and jobs in jeopardy. If business owners know that there will be no more restrictions and curfews on the 15th of November, then they can try to make plans to bridge their business over the period until then.”

Steenhuisen said that South Africans have made extraordinary sacrifices in order to comply with restrictions and regulations that were seldom explained or justified.

“The president needs to take citizens into his confidence and let them know precisely why these sacrifices must continue.

“Specifically, he must set out the criteria his Cabinet requires to be met for the state of disaster to be lifted so that everyone can know whether these are rational and fair decisions.”

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said his party welcomed the announcement that the country will be moving to adjusted alert Level 2.

Hlengwa said the relaxation of some of the restrictions, particularly the regulations related to gatherings, would allow the party to campaign with more freedom.

He, however, said they would like to stress the need to respect all health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The third wave is not yet over, and the virus remains a very real threat to the health and well-being of the people of South Africa.”

Hlengwa also said the party’s national executive committee will hold a meeting on Monday and would issue guidelines that would inform how their structures and volunteers would campaign in the coming weeks.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said they were specifically happy that they could again go freely to church.

“It is very difficult when the moral voice of society is shut down,” Bloem said.

He urged the government and the private sector to put extra effort into Covid-19 vaccine education.

He also said they were happy that they can now go out and meet their members, supporters and the voters at large.

“We can campaign freely and physically meet voters and not through social media,” Bloem said.

Meanwhile, Cosatu also noted the decision to move the country to alert lockdown Level 2.

Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the federation called upon all South Africans to continue to abide by the various health and safety measures, in particular wearing masks, sanitising, social distancing and others saying these were vital to curbing the pandemic.

“We applaud the progress on speeding up the vaccination campaign and the tireless efforts of all health-care workers. The procurement and delivery of vaccinations programme has shown a positive improvement,” Pamla said.

He said it was deeply worrying that many people have failed to vaccinate.

“All adults need to vaccinate because the vaccines have proven to be highly effective in minimising infections and saving lives. It is critical that everyone vaccinates not only to protect themselves but also their co-workers and families.”

Pamla said it was only through achieving mass population immunity that the economy would be able to emerge safely and jobs saved.

“The economy cannot afford to continue absorbing periodic lockdowns, nor is there enough in the Unemployment Insurance Fund to provide relief to workers,” he added.

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