The government will most likely extend the two-week adjusted level four lockdown regulations as Covid-19 cases in South Africa continue to rise.
This is the view of Hugo Pienaar, chief economist at the bureau for economic research at Stellenbosch University.
Pienaar said that when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move to level four on 27 June 2021, the seven-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases was around 15 000.
“Yesterday, the seven-day rolling average was 19 100 and health experts tell us we are yet to reach the peak,” he said.
“Irrespective of the dire impact on the hospitality, liquor and aviation sectors, the state of the pandemic will make it very hard to relax the regulations by Sunday.”
Pienaar said the fact that an agreement has been reached to extend the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) to employees affected by the level 4 lockdown gives a hint that the regulations will be extended beyond the initial two weeks.
The Ters will allow workers in industries affected by the lockdown to get part of their salary during this period.
Pienaar highlighted that South Africa has been in a similar situation during the second wave when harsher restrictions were kept in place longer than initially planned.
“We are very much in the same situation as then with the new variant driving cases,” Pienaar said.
“We are speculating, but if we throw all of this together, I think an extension is on the cards.”
Last week, South Africa recorded its highest ever number of new daily Covid-19 cases – 26,485 – with a positivity rate of 27.3%.
The Gauteng province accounts for the majority of new cases (61%), followed by the Western Cape (11%) and Limpopo (7%) provinces.
The increase in coronavirus cases came a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country under stricter lockdown.
Experts pointed out that the impact of the lockdown will only be felt this week as people only start to show symptoms a few days after they contract the virus.
The chart below provides an overview of the average daily positive Covid-19 cases per week, which Pienaar referred to.