The DA’s head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, says the country has to consider implementing sector-specific protocols, which will help with a gradual and responsible reopening of the economy.
Ngwenya, who joined interim leader John Steenhuisen and chief whip in parliament Natasha Mazzone in a Coronacast, said the DA’s smart lockdown plan, which it promoted last month, could not work due to a lack of credible information.
Steenhuisen held the Coronacast, a live series he has been presenting on online media platforms, discussing a range of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What we have said is, if we cannot provide credible data to trigger each level of lockdown, we then do need to balance saving lives and livelihoods because we risk as many lives from Covid-related economic risks, as well as the non-Covid health risks that are exacerbated by a stringent lockdown,” said Ngwenya.
The country has adopted a five-level risk-adjusted strategy in response to the outbreak reaching its shores in March.
President Cyril Ramaphosa implemented a hard lockdown, shutting down the economy, which is now slowly being reopened as he warned the deadly pandemic, which has infected many across the globe, would peak.
Ngwenya said the levels were starting to lack credibility with regards to what was driving them.
“You almost now have level 4, 4.1, 4.2, level 3 will also have level 3.1, 3.2 … so these levels are starting to lack credibility about what’s driving them.”
She added the government had failed to adhere to the levels as set out when the idea was introduced.
Making an example of e-commerce, Ngwenya said Level 4 of the lockdown had to be revised, resulting in “a level within a level.”
She added Level 3, which takes effect next week, was different from the model first adopted.
Ngwenya said the right approach would be for the economy to open with non-pharmaceutical intentions such as physical distancing, washing of hands and applying sector-specific health protocols.
She added various industries required different approaches.
“If we implement sector protocols, it will in its own way show that the opening of the economy is phased. For example, if a health protocol says people have to sit 1.5m apart in restaurants, it naturally means restaurants have to prepare for that and not all of them will have the space to open.”