Economy struggling to take off

Government urged to relax Covid restrictions

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The government should avoid extending the current lockdown level 3 as the impact will be more devastating to the economy, business and workers.

Economist Duma Gqubule told Sowetan yesterday that there were better measures than a lockdown. These included rapid testing, massive contact tracing and introducing a vaccine early.

He said these have been used in East Asia and produced impressive results. “The cost of vaccinating two thirds of the population is far less than the cost of the lockdown. There is no financial constraint in terms of procuring this vaccine.

“We cannot afford the lockdown. We cannot afford even to extend the current lockdown beyond what was announced. The lockdown is being used as a substitute for government’s failed public health measures,” Gqubule said.

The government introduced adjusted level 3 measures on December 29 just as the tourism sector and related industries were expecting to make the most of the festive season. The adjusted level banned the sale of alcohol, mass gatherings and introduced a new curfew.

Thabo Modise, the chairperson of the Gauteng Liquor Forum, said the sector will not be able to cope with an extension of the current regulations. “ As a sector, we were not fully recovered from the early losses we suffered last year. People had started to see their businesses recover and then we had to close again. These two weeks will cause further problems for our members. People bought their stock for the New Year celebrations and we were not able to sell anything. We’re sitting with stock in our businesses.”

Cosatu, on the other hand, said the government should ensure the current regulations are enforced and improve the working conditions of frontline workers.

The federation’s spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said the government should bring back the UIF Ters funds to save people’s jobs.

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