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It seems, for the time being at least, that common sense has prevailed and South Africa won’t move into a stricter lockdown level.
Despite rising numbers of people being infected with Covid daily and the concern that these numbers will only rise over the festive period, Health Minister Joe Phaahla called for more social distancing and urged the public to get vaccinated, rather than opting to move the country to a harsher lockdown level.
However, he warned that this could change if the situation got worse and if people did not adhere to Covid protocols.
Phaahla said: “The council has directed the department to closely monitor the rising Covid infections, hospitalisations, mortality and recovery rates, which are largely driven by the omicron variant.
“We call upon all travellers, especially those who are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated coming from areas declared hotspots to get vaccinated before hitting the roads, to protect their families and friends they will be visiting during this period.”
He added: “The department, working with provinces, will ensure sufficient vaccination sites remain operational, including pop-up sites at some public places like malls, open community sporting-based venues and roadblocks. We also urge public transport operators to enforce compliance with mask-wearing at all times, hand sanitising and open windows to allow sufficient ventilation.”
South African tourism has been rocked by the careless decision from some countries to put us on their red list late last month. Even though some of those countries finally saw the light, and made a U-turn earlier this week by lifting the ban, the damage to our economy will be felt for some time to come.
Local tourism cannot afford any further setbacks, so any further restrictions imposed on restaurants, bars, hotels, B&Bs and businesses that depend on tourists will have dire consequences.
We may still be on lockdown level one, but the message is clear: do your bit to ensure our numbers don’t spiral out of control. If we don’t, we could still well have a gloomy Christmas.