The fight to get the midnight to 4am curfew lifted before New Year’s Eve is continuing as more organisations call for the restriction to be removed.
Earlier this month, AfriForum’s legal team brought an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria to set aside the national curfew.
This week, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) John Steenhuisen called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the curfew before New Year’s Eve.
“Hospitalisation rates are low across the country.
“Omicron has proved to be far milder than past variants.
“Meantime, vaccines have proven to be extremely effective at protecting against severe disease and death, so those in the high-risk group have had ample opportunity to opt for personal protection,” he said.
Steenhuisen said the real crisis now was the state of the economy and the widespread suffering caused from loss of livelihoods.
He added that the DA has never supported curfews.
“We have never found it to be a rational or justifiable denial of freedom.”
Steenhuisen said ending the curfew would be an easy and also a logical way to boost the economy.
“Particularly the restaurant and events industry, which are major employers and which have taken huge strain and made immense sacrifices during the pandemic.
“Law enforcement should be focused on preventing drunk driving and real criminality, not curfew breakers on New Year’s Eve,” he added.
Restaurants of South Africa chief executive Wendy Alberts said they supported the lobby groups, hospitality groups and tourism industry in the fight to lift the curfew.
“There is absolutely no evidence that lockdown prevents the spread of the virus,” Alberts said. She said the reason for the lockdown was to adequately prepare the healthcare system to cope with the influx of Covid patients.
“The economy was heavily impacted and our industry has been heavily impacted.
“We have seen the devastation of thousands of restaurants permanently closed and hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs permanently,” she said.
Alberts said the industry had made massive sacrifices.
“South Africa deserves to be free and to celebrate New Year’s Eve legally with friends and family in environments that are controlled and safe,” she said.
Human rights activist and lawyer Schalk van der Merwe said he couldn’t see any link between the curfew and Covid infections. Van der Merwe said if the curfew was implemented as a Covid measure he would oppose it on that principle.
“I understand the government was of the opinion that the amount of accidents occurring during nights could cause hospitals to overflow if there was an influx of patients due to the pandemic,” Van der Merwe said.
But he had very few problems with the curfew being maintained during the night of New Year’s Eve.
“Especially as we’ve seen over the years there is a big amount of criminal activity happening on New Year’s Eve,” he said.