Businesses brace for new Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in South Africa

 ·2 Dec 2020

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) says it will challenge any stricter curfews implemented by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the national government.

RASA chief executive Wendy Alberts told Jacaranda radio station that the country’s restaurants would be severely impacted by a lockdown as the country moves into holiday season.

She said that the government has not consulted with the industry about its plans to reintroduce further restrictions.

“We are certainly going to challenge any restriction that has been placed on the restaurant industry. We want all restaurants to let us know if any authority has been in touch with them in the last month advising them that there is Covid-19 in their establishment.”

Sources who sat in on government’s National Coronavirus Command Council indicate that the country’s coronavirus hotspots will face additional restrictions, News24 reported.

Some of the proposed restrictions include:

  • The introduction of a 22h00 curfew, with restaurants closed by 21h00;
  • A ban on the consumption of alcohol in public areas;
  • Restricting gatherings — with funerals and church services set to be limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors;
  • The shuttering of public open spaces, which may include beaches.

It is unclear when these reported restrictions will take effect.

Business leadership South Africa (BLSA) chief executive Busi Mavuso has said that the business sector will likely support localised lockdowns if they take into account potential damage to the economy.

“From a business perspective, it is critical that we leave us much of the economy to operate as possible,” Mavuso said.

“That means that when we must shut down economic activity, we must do it in a way that focuses on the areas where infection rates are most in need of control, with minimal collateral damage to the wider economy.”

Mavuso said that this means:

  • Keeping lockdowns localised;
  • Allowing the rest of the country to function as close to normal as possible;
  • Setting clear indications for which rate of infection will trigger these lockdowns; and
  • Clearly indicating which rules will apply.

“I can understand the temptation for political decision-makers to make sweeping national decrees. They are simpler to enforce and non-compliance is easier to identify. But the cost of simplicity is unnecessary economic damage.”

From a public policy perspective, Mavuso said that the government needs to put effort into a regional approach to lockdowns in order to deliver the best outcomes.

She said that the country also needs a policy approach that sets out what levels of infection rate will trigger additional measures and what rules will apply.

“If we get set that down, we can then look at the complexity involved in enforcing them. I expect businesses would widely support such an approach and add resources necessary to manage compliance,” she said.

Read: Cape Town plans to introduce its own local coronavirus restrictions

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