Western Cape premier Alan Winde has welcomed the easing of restrictions around restaurants and other businesses but says that some more ‘common-sense’ interventions should be introduced.
Responding to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest lockdown extension, Winde said that the government cannot allow the healthcare system to be overwhelmed and for residents to suffer the indignity of not having a bed, enough oxygen or a nurse to care for them when they are sick.
Similarly, it cannot allow job losses to continue as they are – ruining the lives of tens of thousands of people and, ultimately costing lives too, he said.
Winde pointed specifically to the hospitality sector which still faces gathering restrictions of 50 people, limitations on the sale of alcohol, and an evening curfew.
“I do believe that there are further changes possible in this space if we embrace innovation and ‘out of the box’ thinking; we should work with the industry to find other ways in which operations could be scaled up in a safe, well-distanced and well-ventilated environment.
“This innovation is also needed with the responsible sale of alcohol, which is an important revenue stream for hospitality businesses.”
One such measure would be allowing wine sales on wine farms and at wine cellars, and online wine sales with delivery, he said. This could help keep businesses afloat in a safe fashion over the next 14 days.
The premier also raised concerns around prolonged school closures, and especially on those in the foundation phase.
“As a next step, we will be preparing further submissions to the national government to effect common-sense changes that we believe will further get the balance right in saving lives and livelihoods. We must be bold and think out of the box, as we work with our residents during this challenging time.
“I remind our residents that their behaviour remains an important way to slow the spread of the virus, and to save lives.
“The Western Cape Government has prepared well-in advance for the third wave and continues to have enough nurses, beds and oxygen to care for those who fall sick. But we need your help to keep our curve as flat as possible, and to not stretch the system beyond its capacity.”