Comair has extended the suspension of Kulula.com and British Airways flights until 31 August 2021, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will remain on lockdown level 4.
Comair said the prohibition of all non-essential travel in and out of Gauteng means there is limited demand for business travel.
Comair suspended all scheduled flights from 5 July 2021 with the intention to start flying again on 30 July 2021.
However, given the uncertainty of the expected length of the recently adjusted level 4 lockdown, Comair decided to suspend flight operations until 31 August 2021.
“This decision has been taken in the interest of the well-being of employees and customers,” Comair said.
“Without Government engagement with or support for the aviation sector and associated services, the ability to plan constructively for a meaningful service beyond 30 July 2021 is exceptionally challenging.”
“Taking the potential variables into consideration, Comair plans to resume scheduled operations on Wednesday 1 September 2021.”
Comair CEO, Glenn Orsmond, apologised to customers affected by the suspension, adding that the decision was not made lightly.
Tickets for travel with Kulula.com from 28 June 2021 to 31 August 2021 will remain valid for 12 months until 31 August 2022. No change of booking fee or fare difference will be charged.
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.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has warned that transgressors of Adjusted Alert Level 4 regulations will leave law enforcement with no option but to effect arrests.
Cele made the declaration while addressing reporters during a National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) briefing, after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday moved the country to Adjusted Alert Level 4, amid a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections.
“Law enforcement is up to the task. Their aim is not to arrest and criminalise people in mass,” said the Minister.
“As a country, we are all wiser to the effects of this deadly virus. We all know the pain and destruction COVID-19 continues to cause us as a nation and I am confident, there will be more compliance to the regulations set out to save lives.”
Non-compliance with the regulations carries an option of a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both. Since 27 March last year, police had arrested 465 098 citizens who have been charged with the contravention of the Disaster Management Act. Of these, 7 439 of them were nabbed during adjusted alert Level 3 which commenced on 16 June 2021.
“Police will continue to monitor compliance through targeted operations, which will be intensified in hotspot provinces. Community members are also encouraged to continue to be instrumental in reporting the flouting of the regulations,” he said.
He warned that reckless calls for mass contravention of the Disaster Management Act would not be tolerated, saying “police will act decisively against anyone who deliberately and unashamedly contravenes the regulations”.
He added: “In the same breath, let me emphasize, that mass gatherings are not only prohibited but are criminalised under Adjusted Alert Level 4.
“Political leaders of all parties are urged to act responsibly during this time and be reminded that no amount of political mileage is worth people’s lives.”
During the briefing, Cele welcomed the upcoming commencement of the inoculation of security personal. The sector will begin administering jabs from 5 July.
He said the Ministry had already received a comprehensive briefing from the SAPS management in this regard.
“We are satisfied that the inoculation of over 180 000 SAPS members and supporting staff will go ahead as planned.”
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 666 police officers since the country recorded its first case in March last year.
“While we gear up for the vaccination of officers in the frontlines, we know that for the next two weeks it will not be business as usual as we operate under Adjusted Alert Level 4.
“Over and above the national vaccination program that is underway, breaking the chain of transmission by reducing person-to-person contact remains a priority as government, if we are to flatten the curve,” he said.
Pick n Pay Online is now offering a larger range of non-food items for delivery. This followed the recent announcement by Minister Ebrahim Patel that all permitted goods may now be sold online.
The non-food items that will be available online for delivery or “Click n Collect” under level four lockdown includes home entertainment items, such as televisions and gaming, and white goods, such as fridges, freezers, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers. Camping and patio furniture will also be available.
Delivery of these heavier items is available in all major cities nationally and “Click n Collect” lets customers purchase their items online and collect their order from any hypermarket.
The COVID-19 outbreak has significantly accelerated the demand for online shopping and many shoppers turned to Pick n Pay Online for their grocery shop. Since the end of March 2020, Pick n Pay’s online shop has had more than 144,000 new customers registered online. This is 8x more registrations than the previous year. Pick n Pay online also experienced a 200% increase in active transacting online customers during the period.
Last year the retailer significantly enhanced its online offering, which included changing its logistics partner and investing in a dedicated online customer services team. Jessica Knight, Head of Pick n Pay Online, says that this helped them rapidly increased the online shop’s capacity and reach to meet the needs of many new customers who have turned to online shopping since the country went into lockdown.
“We have increased our delivery slots for our online shop, which has meant customers can now get a slot within a few days of placing their order. Customers can currently get a delivery slot within three to five days, depending on the area.
Knight says they are seeing a high percentage of returning customers. “This shows how many first-time online shoppers are really enjoying the ease and convenience of online shopping. We’ve also made it very easy to shop online, for instance, customers have their own personalised ‘aisle’ with their favourite items and they can create a shopping list for regular purchases.”
Pick n Pay also leveraged its partnership with the Bottles app to launch their “Grocery Essentials” same day delivery service. This was done within days of the lockdown being announced and they now pick from over 95 stores across the country. This extended reach has helped Pick n Pay deliver to areas previously outside its delivery network, such as Port Elizabeth, Soweto and Diepkloof.
Knight explains the trends they have seen with customers using their online delivery options during lockdown. “Our average PnP online shop customer will place a larger order through our website and these are usually weekly or monthly shops to restock core grocery items, and cleaning or hygiene products. Our ‘on demand’ customers, placing orders through the Bottles app, generally shop more frequently and use the same-day delivery to top up on essential items and fresh produce.”
Many of Pick n Pay’s franchise stores are still offering ‘Click Direct’ which encourages customers to email or WhatsApp their orders directly to the store, for collection or delivery.
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.
Source: Business Insider
This week, government gazetted new regulations for vehicle owners and public transport during the latest phase of the national lockdown.
The regulations, released on Monday, specified that no vehicles – either private or public transport – were allowed on the roads outside of 05:00 to 20:00, with a grace period of an hour, “to complete a journey”, to 21:00.
But on Wednesday, transport minister Fikile Mbalula gazetted a change to that regulation. Now, public transport – which includes minibus taxis – can operate from 05:00 to 19:00 only, with no mention of a grace period. Instead “the driver must ensure that the drop off is completed by 19:00.”
The section governing the permitted times of private vehicles on the road – a curious inclusion in regulations about public transport in the first place – has been deleted by the same amendment. This presumably means that private car owners can be on the road only till 20:00, when the national curfew starts.
Public transport will only be allowed outside of these hours if it is a chartered service for Level 4 workers, which has been arranged by an employer. The transport owners will have to present documentation to confirm this.
Under back-to-work rules some workers, including restaurant and delivery staff, are allowed to work until 19:00.