The government, led by president Cyril Ramaphosa, is formulating a plan to breathe life into South Africa’s economy and to avert further job losses following the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus.
This comes as the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus has been extended by a further two weeks until the end of April.
The Sunday Times reports that the national command council will discuss industry proposals to ease some of the lockdown restrictions, including lobbies from the tobacco and alcohol sectors, and a call to allow fast food shops to reopen.
“The results of these discussions are expected to be taken to the cabinet later in the week, where a raft of proposals that include a comprehensive financial package geared at scaling up the production of essential goods will be tabled,” the Sunday paper said.
Call to sell beer
The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) representing the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken and South African Breweries has called for the ‘off-consumption’ beer trade to resume.
This is a licence granted for the sale of liquor for consumption off of the premises where it is sold. These premises include liquor stores, distribution centres and wholesale entities.
BASA warned of major job losses for its industry if these restrictions continue.
“In the last 15 days, we have had news of many beer outlets shutting their doors with several people being retrenched. With an industry that employs close to 250,000 people, these are many lives that are now being placed at risk.
“Secondary industries are also impacted by the shutdown i.e. glass and bottle manufacturers, print and design companies, transportation, retailers, equipment manufacturers, electricians, plumbers, farmers and many more,” BASA said.
The association said it has made a number of submissions along with the other liquor associations to the president as well as minsters with proposals as to how to ensure the survival of the industry.
Some of these include:
- Allowing licensed off-consumption outlets to sell beer subject to strict social distancing requirements and within restricted hours of trade.
- Allowing licensed on-consumption outlets to be granted a special dispensation to operate strictly as off-consumption outlets subject to the strict social distancing requirements and within restricted hours of trade.
- This includes Licenced taverns to support the township economy
- Restriction on volumes sold per consumer to avoid irresponsible consumption
- Placing hand sanitisers at outlets to ensure good hygiene practices.
- Allowing for online ordering and delivery of beer with strict quantity controls in place
- Restricted Hours of Trade:
- Between 09h00 – 18h00 on all weekdays;
- Between 09h00 – 16h00 on Saturdays; and
- No beer sales on Sundays and Public Holidays
Call to reopen certain business sectors
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has also called on the government to allow certain business sectors to reopen after the lockdown extension.
The business body, which has a membership comprising approximately 20,000 small, medium and large enterprises, commended president Ramaphosa on his leadership and management of the current crisis.
Sacci suggested “a staggered return to business, starting with industries which can demonstrate high levels of social distancing and health control, like the Fast Food Outlets (FFOs) industry”.
FFOs in South Africa currently employ more than 150,000 people. Many businesses are likely to close down and there will be major job losses as a result, said Sacci chief executive officer, Alan Mukoki.
“To protect the SA economy from a total collapse, we have to look beyond the lock-down as the only option,” he said.
Covid-19 numbers rising
South Africa has 2,028 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), with 25 deaths.
“The total number of COVID-19 tests conducted to date is 75,053,” minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Saturday.
The latest death reported was of a 61-year-old man in the Western Cape.
“His underlying medical conditions included diabetes, hypertension and obesity. We convey our condolences to the family of the deceased and also appreciated the health workers that treated the deceased patient,” Mkhize said.
On Saturday, there were 25 more cases of virus compared to Easter Friday’s 2,003 confirmed cases. The minister reported one additional death to the 24 deaths announced on Easter Friday.
In a series of tweets following the updated figures, minister Mkhize said KwaZulu-Natal has a high death toll with more than six patients having died at one hospital.
“We need to get into why this is so. We have now decided the hospital needs to be closed-down and an investigation needs to be launched.”
He said most of the confirmed cases were in the metros including Cape Town in Western Cape, Johannesburg in Gauteng, Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and Mangaung in the Free State.
He added that by reducing large gathering such as church services and football games helps to reduce the spread of the virus.
“The number of new infections is not increasing as much as it would’ve been. The borders have also been closed preventing new imported infections.”
The minister said the regular washing of hands, social distancing and the wearing of mask needs to continue after the conclusion of the national lockdown.