Unions want tougher lockdown restrictions on gatherings in South Africa

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed South Africa’s move to an adjusted level 2 lockdown, but says that government needs to go a step further to reduce gatherings.

The trade federation said that the stricter evening curfew between 23h00 – 04h00 will help save lives while minimising the impact on livelihoods.

However, it said that it was ‘deeply concerned’ that the government did not go further in reducing the still disproportionately high numbers of persons allowed to gather indoors and outdoors.

Most of such gatherings are social and not economic in nature, and these gatherings are the largest vectors for spreading the pandemic, it said.

“As we seek to delay the third wave, these numbers need to be reduced to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors. We should not gamble with the lives of South Africans by allowing such large public gatherings that are not essential to the economy’s wellbeing.

“Cosatu is holding engagements with sectors of the economy affected by the gatherings’ restrictions and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) at Nedlac to see what relief can be provided to their workers and businesses, in the sports, hospitality and related industries.

“An agreement has already been reached that workers over 60 years of age worker or who have co-morbidities and who cannot safely resume work will be assisted by the UIF.”

The trade federation said that government also needs to do much more to enforce the existing health and safety measures, in particular the wearing of PPEs, sanitising and social distancing, especially in the public transport system, where there is very little adherence to the restrictions.

“The tepid rollout of the vaccines remains baffling. The slow pace and continuous delays are putting millions of lives and livelihoods unnecessarily at risk,” it said.

“The progress made in the past two weeks with the commencement of phase 2 of the vaccine rollout programme is welcome, but it is not enough. We need to be dispensing at least 200,000 people daily, including on weekends.

“All vaccine sites need to be open, including at workplace sites that have the necessary capacity.”

Read: South Africa moves to adjusted lockdown level 2 – here are the key restrictions in place

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Unions want tougher lockdown restrictions on gatherings in South Africa