Tag: Level 3

SA to remain on Lockdown Level 3

By  Marvin Charles for News24 

Cabinet has approved the decision to leave the country on adjusted Level 3 of lockdown restrictions.

It comes after the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) met earlier this week amid lower numbers of vaccinations being administered across the country.

As of yesterday, there were 14 000 new Covid-19 cases reported. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape were still experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said: “Cabinet further approved the keeping of the country under the risk-adjusted alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, as advised by the Ministerial Advisory Committee. Cabinet encourages all unvaccinated people in South Africa to get vaccinated because vaccines protect us from getting seriously ill from Covid-19 and they save lives.”

Three weeks ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to alert Level 3 of the national lockdown following his meeting with the NCCC and the Presidential Coordinating Committee. He also announced the resumption of the sale of alcohol. He also announced the reinstatement of the R350 Social Relief Grant. It will run until March 2022.

He added that while sustained decreases in case numbers in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga had been observed, the other five provinces were either increasing or sustaining numbers of new cases.

“The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces still appear to be on the upward slope of the third wave, although the Western Cape is showing early signs of reaching the peak of their third wave. Whereas the Free State and Northern Cape provinces continue to see a steady number of new cases,” Puren said.

 

By Mike Schüssler and Phumlani Majozi for IOL

Nearly 1.4-million formal and informal jobs are at risk in the South African economy with the present Level 3 restrictions impacting directly across at least seven sectors.

The sectors are travel, tourism, entertainment, leisure, manufacturing, agriculture, and services that are not elsewhere classified.

The total number of people employed across these sectors equates to one in 12 jobs being directly at risk of destruction. If one includes family and dependants as a reflection of the normal size of households, the level 3 restrictions could impact millions more as they rely on the breadwinner’s wages.

As many also help dependants outside the immediate family, the overall number of people impacted could be as much as 10 percent of the South African population.

Remember, too, that South Africa is often credited with the highest unemployment rate in the world. The impact will be felt even if only half of the jobs at risk are destroyed.

Some provinces, such as the Western and Northern Cape, have even higher numbers: One in six jobs in the Western Cape and one in five in the Northern Cape are at risk.

While the Eastern Cape has only one in 13 jobs at risk, the impact could be greater as the provincial extended unemployment rate could increase to close to 60 percent. Measured differently, the risk for the Eastern Cape is that only one in four adults will have a job if the jobs at risk are destroyed.

While metropolitan unemployment rates are generally lower than rural unemployment rates, all eight metros in the country could end up with extended unemployment rates above 40 percent.

One, Nelson Mandela Bay, would have an unemployment rate of more than 50 percent. Two others, Mangaung and Ekurhuleni, could have unemployment rates of close to 50 percent.

Limpopo and the Eastern Cape already have the highest unemployment rates in the country, so any, even a small, increase would have a devastating impact.

Overall, South African unemployment could rise from 43.1 percent to 51.6 percent within a year, driven by the potential level 3 job losses. And increasing job seekers.

In addition to these unacceptable job losses, the level 3 restrictions are having detrimental repercussions for the turnover of industry as well.

The formal private sector turnover of the industries impacted by the restrictions was R69 billion a month in 2019. The formal private sector is at risk of losing 8.1 percent of its turnover every month that the restrictions remain, using annual financial statistics.

The estimated impact across these sectors is a reduction of at least 60 percent in turnover. This means that R41.4bn is lost every month that the restrictions remain.

The formal salaries paid to employees in these sectors is R9.6bn per month. Personal income tax is estimated at R1.5bn per month. Adding agriculture and informal employee income would be close to R10.5 million.

The knock-on impact can be seen by the fact that these industries buy R38.7bn worth of goods from other sectors every month, and spend R1.5m on advertising as well as fixed costs such as rent, leases, and interest of R4.6bn per month.

Moreover, these sectors pay R7.6bn in taxes every month (excluding employees’ PAYE mentioned above).

These taxes are made up of VAT, excise duties and company taxes.

The total taxes combined are well over R9bn for the formal sector alone per month. Adding things like passenger taxes and tourism spend along with the informal sector VAT spend, the impact of the level 3 restrictions on the fiscus is certainly well over R10bn a month.

The fact that the government extracts more than R10bn a month from these industries during normal times, but cannot find any funds to help them when they are in trouble, is economically short-sighted.

Keeping these businesses alive and operating as far as possible, while they take precautions against the Covid-19 pandemic, will help pay for the now bigger deficit even in the short-term.

Over a maximum period of six years, a relief package that helps the whole industry for three months at a rate of just more than R10bn will have been more than paid back.

Government relief on that scale will also mean that banks will be more likely to help restructure repayments, and suppliers would also be able to help with more finance, too.

Moreover, paying employees extra via the Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme would also help greatly. No one can go 10 months with reduced earnings as a result of harsh restrictions without any government relief.

The government has a moral duty to not cause business failure, as well as to avoid mass hunger. It must immediately open the economy up again and allow businesses to take the necessary hygienic precautions without undue interference.

 

Speaking in a recent eNCA interview, police minister Bheki Cele said that there had been a notable decrease in crime in several areas during lockdown Level 3.

These include:

  • Cash-in-transit heists;
  • Bank robberies; and
  • House robberies.

However, gender-based violence is currently a major concern; he highlighted the fact that more than 38 000 women were raped in South Africa last year.

He called on community members to report any abuse or violent behaviour before a crime is committed.

Lockdown measures

Cele said operations by the SAPS would be intensified during the country’s national state of disaster.

Specific measures include:

  • The conducting of static roadblocks on all national routes and major routes in order to monitor, control and ensure adherence to the regulations;
  • The conducting of vehicle checkpoints, on provincial routes, regional routes, rail routes, main streets in order to monitor, control and ensure adherence to the regulations;
  • The conducting of high visibility patrols to monitor, control and ensure adherence to the regulations;
  • Designated investigation capacity and case management; and
  • Implementation of objects of policing, in accordance with S 205(3) of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

 

South Africa enters lockdown Level 3

Source: IOL

As South Africa prepares for the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the government’s Coronavirus Command Council has clarified the new regulations which will govern the lives of citizens from 1 June.

While the curfew which at Level 4 restricted people to their homes between 8pm at night and 5am in the morning has been lifted, a number of restrictions on movement remain in place.

Movement of people

People may only leave their homes for work, to procure groceries and essential services, exercise or perform any of the other activities permitted under Level 3.

Visiting with family and friends, exercising in groups and attending large gatherings is still forbidden.

Pupils and tertiary students may travel between their homes and their institutions of learning.

You may not move between provinces, metropolitan areas or districts except in the course of performing a service permitted under level 3, to attend a funeral, transport mortal remains, care for a sick relative or for work purposes. In each instance, a permit is required.

You may move house, but you will need a permit from the relevant authority.

All those above the age of 60, and those with underlying medical conditions, should leave home only in exceptional circumstances.

Domestic workers and private carers

All domestic workers and other care workers employed in private households may return to work, as long as their employer ensures that adequate safety measures are in place.

The employer is also required to issue them with a permit.

Exercise

The restriction on the hours when people can exercise have been eased, but not completely lifted.

You may now exercise at any time, as long as it is not an organised group activity.

Gyms, exercise centres, beaches, public parks, sports grounds and swimming pools will remain closed.

All retail outlets will be open with stringent health protocols in place. Likewise, all economic sectors are allowed to operate except those with high risk.

The consumption of food and alcohol in restaurants, bars, shebeens and taverns is still prohibited.

The sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products remains prohibited

Sale and transport of alcohol

The ban on alcohol sales has been lifted but the regulations only permit for liquor to be sold at predetermined times, and under strict conditions

Alcohol can be sold only on Monday to Thursday between 9am and 5pm. No alcohol sales are permitted on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays.

Traders will be permitted to sell alcohol for consumption off-site and the consumption of alcohol at the place of sale is prohibited.

Gatherings

Only funerals and religious gatherings are permitted and these are capped at 50 persons, depending on the size of the place of worship.

All health protocols and social distancing measures must be adhered to as provided for directions that have been issued by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Hotspot areas

In the coronavirus hotspots announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Justice Cluster will conduct patrols, roadblocks, and vehicle check points.

The South African Police, SANDF and local law enforcement authorities will work together to control movement in these areas.

Transport

The hours of operation of minibus, metred and e-hailing taxi operators will no longer be limited .

Commuters will have to wait another month before Metrorail begins operating again. However, t he Gautrain, which resumed operations at the beginning of May, will resume the airport service on June 1.

Public transport operators offering long distance services will be allowed to operate, provided that they only carry paasengers permitted to travel between provinces under the Disaster Management regulations.

Categories of persons permitted to travel long distance:

  • Persons undertaking work responsibilities or performing a service permitted under Alert Level 3, provided they are in possession of the requisite permit;
  • Persons moving to a new place of residence;
  • Persons caring for an immediate family member;
  • Learners or students who have to commute to and from those schools or institutions of higher learning during periods when those schools or institutions are permitted to operate;
  • Persons travelling to attend funerals;
  • Persons transporting mortal remains;
  • Persons travelling to obtain medical treatment;
  • Persons returning to their place of residence from a quarantine or isolation facility;
  • Children moving between custodial parents;
  • Members of Parliament performing oversight responsibilities.

Domestic air travel will be permitted with aircraft allowed to carry their full capacity. T he rollout of domestic flights will be done in three phases, and that the number of flights per day will be restricted.

Which airports will be allowed to open under the three phases:

Phase 1
OR Tambo International Airport
Cape Town International Airport
King Shaka International Airport, and
Lanseria International Airport

Phase 2
Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
Polokwane International Airport
Bram Fischer International Airport (Bloemfontein)

Phase 3
Kimberley Airport
Upington Airport
East London Airport
Umtata Airport
Port Elizabeth Airport

The country’s borders remain closed, except for the movement of goods and the repatriation of citizens.

The ban on passenger vessels and cruise liners will remain in place and only vessels bringing in cargo would be allowed to call on South African ports.

Allowance will be made for South African registered seafarers to embark and disembark ships with a mandatory quarantine for those returning.

Tourism
Hotels and leisure accommodation remain closed, but the following activities that will be allowed under level 3 include:

  • Professional services, such as tourist guides, tour operators, travel agents, and tourism information officers;
  • Professional services, including training of nature guides and other related services able to ensure safe physical distancing;
  • Public and private game farms for self-drive excursions;
  • Hiking in compliance with existing guidelines and not in groups;
  • Accommodation activities except for leisure, and establishments would no longer require a letter from the minister to operate. They were required to ensure that they accommodated those in the permitted services and kept records for inspections by the department; and
  • Hunting and gaming activities.

Sports

Sports teams can begin training under Level 3 regulations but it matches won’t be able to resume just yet. The PSL as well as Super Rugby teams will be able to start non-contact training next week but according to the rules, games can only take place from Level 1.

Source: News24

After seven weeks of lockdown living, South Africans expected President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide more clarity when he addressed the nation for the first time in 20 days on Wednesday.

The purpose of the lockdown was to “flatten the curve”, meaning to delay the spread of the coronavirus to allow time for the government to upgrade its health infrastructure, import and manufacture more ventilators, construct field hospitals and increase our supply of personal protective equipment.

According to Ramaphosa, we have done well on this score.

The lockdown comes at a great cost to our country. According to National Treasury, between three and seven million South Africans could lose their jobs due to business shutting down. The South African Revenue Service projects a R285bn loss in revenue.

But South Africans complied when Ramaphosa announced the lockdown in mid-March, to ensure our health capacity is in place when Covid-19 peaks here.

We cannot avoid the onslaught of the virus. We cannot lock ourselves up for 18 to 24 months until a vaccine may be available at clinics and pharmacies. Ramaphosa didn’t provide enough clarity what a further continuation of the lockdown would achieve.

All he said on Wednesday was that some areas in the country would probably be “downgraded” to Level 3 at the end of the month, and that Level 4 regulations on retail, e-commerce and exercising would be relaxed, without providing detail.

The test for moving down levels is the rate of infections in an area against the readiness and capacity of hospitals in the city or town. Our hospitals are relatively empty at this point in time; the president should have explained why the country needed to remain on Level 4 for more than two weeks before a downgrade is considered.

It is clear that Ramaphosa is still “consulting” (read: debating or arguing) with his colleagues in the Cabinet about who would move to Level 3 when, and what the relaxations will entail.

Ramaphosa apologised to the nation for the government’s inconsistent and contradictory actions during the lockdown. This should be welcomed, but Ramaphosa should have used the opportunity to be bolder in his announcements about what happens next.

Ramaphosa’s leadership during the crisis has been exemplary. He needs to step up now, not allow the weak leaders around him to undermine our approach and address the very real, fact-based criticism of a continued lockdown after we had flattened the curve.

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