People are on tenterhooks ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation tomorrow night as the modified alert level 4 lockdown, implemented on 27 June and extended from 11 July to tomorrow, comes to an end.
Restaurant Association of SA chief executive Wendy Alberts said the industry made a call to Ramaphosa and other ministers to lift the alcohol ban and allow restaurants to open for dinner trading hours.
“The alcohol ban had a terrible effect in our industry. We expect the president to allow us to still operate and lift the alcohol ban,” said Alberts.
“We cannot trade without our core businesses and without our dinner trading hours. We made this call and have a massive campaign in which we asked the president make sure the industry was opened soon,” she said.
The travel, tourism and hospitality sectors also called for an easing of restrictions as they suffered major financial losses due to major hotels being closed and flights being grounded during the current restrictions.
“With approximately 60% of domestic travellers coming from Gauteng and given that the province was the central connective point of the country, travellers and commuters transit through it when exploring surrounding provinces,” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, chief executive of the Tourism Business Council of SA in a statement yesterday.
“This meant the entire tourism economy in the country was negatively affected. In the aviation subsector, close to 40% of travel was impacted as OR Tambo International Airport accounted for over a third of annual domestic travel.”
However, head of the department of global health at Stellenbosch University Jo Barnes said the decrease in Covid infections did not mean the third wave was over.
“The numbers of new cases have decreased somewhat over the past few days, but have by no means reduced to anything resembling safe levels.
“Given the violence and looting that took pace recently, with the vast majority of those taking part not observing social distancing or wearing masks, the numbers may yet suffer a serious upswing again,” she said.
Barnes encouraged people to continue observing safety measures.
Director of the SA Medical Research Council’s alcohol, tobacco and other drugs research unit Charles Parry said an important question that would determine if the country was ready for an ease in lockdown levels was whether hospitals had the capacity to treat Covid patients.
“The data showed that we have over 17 000 people in hospital as of 21 July with 2 302 in ICU and 1 320 on a ventilator,” Parry said.
Economist Iraj Abedian said there was a chance the alcohol ban would be somewhat lifted.
“But full relaxation is unlikely,” he said.