The popular saying ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ applies here. We come bearing bad news: Level 4 lockdown regulations may be extended beyond 11 July.
The Bureau of Economic Research (BER) on Monday released a forecast for the week ahead, and economists seem to agree the recent spike in Covid-19 cases “should influence whether government decides on an extension”.
“Unfortunately, given the progression of the third wave since the measures were announced, we think it is likely that most, if not all, of the current restrictions will be extended,” BER said in a statement.
Will level 4 regulations be extended?
South Africa is currently on a two-week adjusted level 4 lockdown implemented by Cyril Ramaphosa on 26 June, pending a review on 11 July.
At the time, Ramaphosa expressed concern as Covid-19 cases increased rapidly since the last adjusted restrictions when South Africa went into level 3 adjusted lockdown.
As was widely reported, the Delta strain is now a key driver in the surge of cases in South Africa and the rest of the continent, causing a severe impact on the health sector.
BER said, given the progression of the third wave, it is “likely that most, if not all, of the current restrictions will be extended.”
“While it is too early to tell whether the restrictions helped in limiting the spread of Covid-19 cases, the direct impact of the restrictions, the third wave and subsequent changes in consumer/firm behaviour on businesses is already apparent,” BER said.
Furthermore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates cases in Africa double every three weeks. Added to that, only 1.5% of Africa’s population have been vaccinated to date.
BER suggests an extension on the TERS scheme would give South Africa a much-needed boost during the third wave, especially for the sectors hardest hit by level 4 lockdown restrictions.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday called on Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, to provide clarity on TERS extension.
DA Shadow Minister of Employment and Labour, Michael Cardo, said finer details of the extension – as discussed at Nedlac on Sunday – are “still being worked out and will have to be approved by the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet”.
He specifically called on Nxesi to “move with great speed to finalise and communicate the details”.
The TERS scheme was in effect from October 2020 to March 2021 and assisted thousands of workers affected by lockdown regulations. Cardo said, “many desperate workers have now been deprived of their usual income” once again.
“They deserve to know exactly what relief they can expect and whether it will last for the duration of the Level 4 lockdown regulations, should the lockdown be prolonged beyond 11 July,” Cardo said.