Premier warns against level 2 lockdown for South Africa over Easter

Western Cape premier Alan Winde says that his provincial government does not support a move to alert level 2, as it is not supported by data, and will undermine economic recovery.

In a statement on Tuesday (30 March), Winde said that in considering whether a level 2 lockdown should be introduced ahead of the upcoming religious holidays, the national government should look at local Covid-19 data.

There continues to be a decline in cases, admissions and deaths in the Western Cape – although this is starting to plateau, he said. He added that the proportion of positive tests remains stable at 5.1%.

“This data, overall, demonstrates a health platform that currently has the capacity to respond to Covid-19,” he said.

“On the other hand, the Western Cape’s economy was hit hard last year, and we are only now starting to see signs of a delicate recovery.”

Winde said that an estimated 150,000 jobs were lost in the Western Cape in 2020, with almost all the top tourist attractions in the province reflecting a more than 60% drop in visitors over the peak tourism season in December.

The Easter period is very important for domestic tourism in South Africa and limiting demand now will result in even more job losses, he said.

Other concerns raised by Winde include:

  • Nearly 30% of restaurants surveyed have closed temporarily or permanently, based on data from the Restaurant Association of South Africa;
  • The previous beach ban is estimated to have cost the sector at least R120 million a month. Some 12,8% of visitors indicate beach visits as their top priority;
  • According to an industry impact report by Cape Town Tourism, released in February 2021, 68% of businesses surveyed have already let staff go and 83% have implemented pay cuts;
  • The same report found that of those businesses that are still operating, 68% are relying on the domestic market to keep their doors open, given low demand by international travelers;
  • The first two bans on alcohol have already resulted in an estimated 165 000 job losses country wide, and this sector is important for sustaining agri jobs in the Western Cape.

“When comparing this concerning data with the current status of our health platform, it becomes clear that moving to Alert Level 2 at this stage would not achieve the balance we need to save both lives and livelihoods in the Western Cape.

“I am particularly worried that it will level another devastating blow to our tourism and hospitality economy in the Western Cape, which is under immense pressure currently, and which needs this upcoming holiday period to recover.

“One must also consider that there are currently numerous restrictions in place under Alert Level 1, which need to be properly enforced to ensure compliance with important health protocols.

“With this said, our government will continue to do everything we can to ensure we delay a possible third wave for as long as possible.”

Read: Universities in South Africa told to prepare for a year of Covid-19 restrictions

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Premier warns against level 2 lockdown for South Africa over Easter