While welcoming the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the country would be eased out of the Covid-19 lockdown, the DA’s interim leader John Steenhuisen has called for details of the levelled approach to be clear and unambiguous.
On Thursday evening, Ramaphosa announced that government would introduce a gradual and strategic approach towards an economic recovery while fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ramaphosa said the government would implement a risk adjustment strategy which would be deliberate and cautious.
He said the country would move from five different levels with the most extreme being level five, which the country would phase out on 30 April.
Reacting to the announcement, Steenhuisen said the move by Ramaphosa was similar to what the DA had proposed calling it a “smart lockdown model”.
“This phased, risk-adjusted model, whereby restrictions are lifted as and when the data suggests it is safe, is critical to protecting precious jobs and ensuring that the livelihood of millions of South Africans is saved,” he said.
“The DA has called for precisely this approach in our smart lockdown plan, released 10 days ago. It is encouraging that we are able to cooperate in this way, and to know that we are on the same page as we face this daunting challenge,” he said.
Crucial to the phasing out of the lockdown is a massive increase in testing, tracing and tracking, the DA leader said.
On Thursday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that 318 new cases had been recorded with 10 more deaths, taking the number of fatalities to 75.
“Without such transparent data in the public domain, it is impossible to know when, where and to what extent restrictions on activities are necessary. Sharing this data with the media and public is also critical to maintaining support and ensuring compliance with ongoing Covid-19 measures,” Steenhuisen said in a statement.
He said a regular data release must also cover all aspects of the economic stimulus plan. Steenhuisen said this included lists of businesses applying for and receiving SMME relief, employees receiving TERS relief, details of UIF payments and details of both Covid-19 grant payments and unemployment grant payments.
“We also reiterate our call for certain restrictions to be lifted immediately. All stores selling essential items should be permitted to sell all items in their stores, including electronics, stationary, books, beauty products and cigarettes. Stores selling non-essential items should be allowed to open immediately for purposes of fulfilling delivery orders only.
“Similarly, restaurants and fast-food outlets should be able to open their kitchens for home delivery. All e-commerce stores should be allowed to operate,” he said, adding that he had communicated this to Ramaphosa when the president briefed political leaders earlier on Thursday.
“The DA supports the efforts of President Ramaphosa to combat the spread of the virus and to bring economic relief to those affected. And we will most certainly support him in instituting the much-needed economic reforms that will ensure that South Africa emerges from this crisis with the best fighting chance.”