Western Cape premier Alan Winde says he has written to Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to request that some lockdown restrictions be relaxed in the province in an effort to save jobs in the province.
Winde said that request was based on evidence and data, setting out the province’s current Covid-19 statistics, the fact that it has now exited its second wave peak, as well as details of health interventions.
"We also set out data on the economic and human cost of some of these restrictions, and how ultimately, they are costing jobs," he said.
"From the outset, we said that we need to get the balance right in saving both lives and livelihoods, and that the restrictions announced now more than 21 days ago needed to be reviewed after 14 days, based on the evidence available."
Some of the changes which Winde has requested include:
- The ban on beaches and other public spaces should be lifted. Winde said that open spaces with good ventilation are safer and they do not provide a high risk. He added that the festive season is now over, and people are back at work.
- The curfew hours should be changed to 23h00 to 04h00 as the current curfew makes it impossible for restaurants to provide a dinner service and this sector is buckling as a result.
- A closing time for 22h00 should be set for establishments, as this will allow for staff to get home before curfew begins.
- Alcohol sales should be permitted off-site from Monday to Thursday, and not permitted on the weekend.
- Alcohol sales should be permitted at wine farms on the weekend, as this is the time when most visitors come to wine farms.
- On-site alcohol consumption should be allowed. Winde said that if restaurants cannot sell alcohol with dinner service, they will not remain profitable and will be forced to close. This will result in many job losses.
In a media briefing on Monday (18 January), Mkhize said that South Africa is beginning to see the benefits of its latest level 3 lockdown and its ability to manage a second surge in Covid-19 cases.
The Health minister said that the first 'green shoots' are appearing and that the country appears to be nearing an inflection point' and plateau in Covid-19 cases.
However, he cautioned against complacency and warned that a resurgence could happen at any point.
Mkhize said that he was specifically concerned about holidaymakers travelling back to Gauteng from coastal provinces which could cause a spike in cases.
"We are hoping that what we are seeing now is an indications that (cases) will start declining and we need to see next week whether there is any new impact from people coming back from the festive season.
This is what we thought the real pressure could come from, but the adjusted level 3 restrictions have actually assisted a lot.