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Expected Level 2 presidential address gets mixed reactions

But industries agree that it’s time for Ramaphosa to open up the economy.
A move to Level 2 would indicate moderate Covid-19 spread with high health system readiness – or acceptance that the economic imperative can no longer be ignored. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

Let’s rewind for a minute. We’ve been here before, speculating about how the easing of the lockdown-induced regulations are most likely to unfold.

For some industries, the more optimistic speculations turned out to be true in previous announcements. Others are still waiting, struggling to survive. Many have already become casualities.

The debate always boils down to the readiness of the health system to face a potential onslaught of Covid-19 cases versus the need for the economy to fully function in order to save jobs.

On Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on whether the country will be moving to Alert Level 2. This comes after the Forum of South African Directors-General (Fosad) recommended to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) that South Africa’s lockdown regulations be eased.

Easing of restrictions so far

A lot of activity that would only have been allowed in Level 2 or even Level 1 was permitted in the various iterations of ‘advanced’ Level 3.

Government has allowed restaurants to open for sit-down operations, there has been a relaxation of the ban on leisure travel and accommodation within one’s own province, the curfew has been shortened to between 22:00 and 04:00, and business and other authorised air travel is allowed.

A move to Level 2 would indicate a moderate Covid-19 spread with high health system readiness.

Easing … with tougher restrictions

According to Professor Charles Parry, director of the alcohol, tobacco and other drug research unit at the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC), most provincial hospitals will be able to withstand the eased regulations, if there are ‘tougher’ regulations on alcohol availability and advertising.

Parry says that data from 10 hospitals in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape show that in the four weeks following the second ban on liquor sales and the institution of a 21:00 curfew, there has been, on average, a 38% decrease in trauma presentations.

“I have heard parts of what the government is negotiating with industry, but I think the government should push for stronger regulations on [alcohol] container sizes,” Parry says.

He suggests that beer and cider bottles be limited to 500ml while wine and spirits should be no more than 750ml.

He emphasised that the risk of easing the regulations is huge and there is no guarantee that trauma units won’t again be congested with patients from alcohol-related accidents.

His SAMRC colleague, specialist scientist Dr Catherine Egbe, called for smokers to rethink their lifestyle choice in the midst of the pandemic, despite the decision government is widely expected to take.

“People are now more aware of the dangers smoking poses to their health and this should guide people’s actions and decisions about smoking going forward. People should be protected from exposure to second-hand smoke [or] stay smoke-free if [they] have already quit,” Egbe says.

Not so optimistic

The liquor and tobacco industries have been vocal about the ban on their operations, and with the speculation that the limitations will be lifted, are wary of celebrating before the actual announcement, saying: “We have been here before.”

Kurt Moore of the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association, which represents manufacturers and distributors of alcohol, says it has made recommendations to government to reconsider its ban, but has not yet received confirmation whether it will be lifted, saying that no official date has been given.

He says that even when the ban is lifted, the industry will never recover from the losses it has incurred.

“The wine industry has lost R5 billion. Every week the ban continues we lose R400 million,” Moore says.

Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) chair Sinenhlanhla Mnguni shares his sentiments.

“At this point, we are cautiously monitoring the situation. There have been similar rumours circulating in the past, only for the government to continue with the ban, so we are not getting too excited just yet. A decision to lift the ban, however, would be welcomed.”

Mnguni points out that there hasn’t been any engagement between the industry and government in relation to the sale of cigarettes in Level 2.

“We have always stated that our door is open, and we accordingly wait for government to give us an audience.”

He points out that even though it isn’t clear what the new regulations will be, billions of rands have been lost not only by the industry along the value chain but also by the fiscus, as the SA Revenue Service has not been able to collect much revenue from the tobacco industry as a result of the ban.

“There has been ongoing speculation over the past five months that the ban could be lifted, however, we can only be sure of this once new regulations are issued,” said the corporate communications team at Philip Morris South Africa, which produces Marlboro and Chesterfield cigarettes.

“We are therefore unable to comment further on this, but remain hopeful that the government will soon lift the ban.”

British American Tobacco echoes these sentiments.

Tourism and inter-provincial travel

The tourism sector has been one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic globally and will continue to feel the impact of Covid-19 for the foreseeable future.

Every day the country has been and continues to be under lockdown around R740 million is lost to the sector – and it is expected that 600 000 jobs will be lost, according to Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

Tshivhengwa said that if Ramaphosa is going to open up the economy, and for the country to thrive, tourism employees must go back to work. This will only meaningfully happen if Ramaphosa lifts the ban on inter-provincial travel.

“People must cross the provinces because people in Gauteng are the ones who feed Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State and the Drakensberg area with travel.”

“There’s no reason to open a hotel in Bela Bela if people cannot move [across provinces],” Tshivhengwa said.

Fighting to survive

FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon says the aviation market is currently “operating between 6% and 8% of the seats that were available this time last year”.

The airline accounts for 60% of that domestic share, which it says it’s still modest with demand being restricted by the regulations.

“We have built up to a point where we are now operating between 22 and 26 flights a day, depending on the day of the week, but this is only a fraction of what we are capable of operating,” says Gordon, adding that FlySafair is staffed and fleeted to operate 84 flights a day, which was the norm before lockdown.

A lift of the ban on interprovincial travel won’t be a silver bullet that solves the problem of low demand, especially in the current economic environment, but Gordon says full domestic travel will provide “the first step up toward a point where we can actually start thinking about recovering”.

“Right now, we are just fighting to survive.”

International travel 

Tshivhengwa said the discussion on when international travel will be allowed also “can’t be avoided any longer”, explaining that the government needs to give the sector a date when it will be allowed, even if it comes with restrictions.

All air travel will be permitted in Level 1, but Tshivhengwa said that could be next year and the country does not have the “luxury” of waiting until then, especially with spring and summer at our door.

“Tanzania is open and we know Kenya has put a date down to open [August 1] – and those are our competitors,” he said, adding that people in South Africa’s key source markets who want to go on ‘safari’ will go to those countries if SA does not open its borders.

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Industrial areas are now to be seen with vast numbers of closed and abandoned business premises. Millions of jobs have been permanently lost. And for what?
The worst effects of this virus can be prevented with daily use of green tea and a zinc tablet. Its a nothing burger, a soup of hype and scant reality.
Anyone with half a brain can see for themselves that its just a hooha with a fake purpose. The rush of governments into totalitarian dictatorships is mind blowing. Now humanity must usurp the dictatorships that have taken advantage of draconian emergency powers in order to create a “new normal” of siege government and totalitarianism. Absolute power always corrupts absolutely.

Death can be prevented with green tea and zinc? Are you saying all those people did not in fact die from Covid-19?

You have not seen any advice about proven prophylactics. Nor has anyone that relies upon the WHO, any governement or any main stream media. This does not mean that they do not exist. It just means that this vital information is being suppressed by the big pharma octopus. Many front-line doctors have each treated hundreds of confirmed cases with severe symptoms and have achieved zero fatalities. The result of their efforts has only been the vile attempts to discredit. Greed is an illness that kills the conscience and drives its worst affected victims into mass murder.

Dr Gonzo ….”Death can be prevented with green tea and zinc?”

What infantile comment is that?

Oh..I see you are refering to death by covid-19 Perhaps add some “adjectives” else you are just a very dull commenter

and why don’t you provide evidence that covid19 id the cause of all these deaths

Green Tea and Zinc!!! where have you been the past 5 months?? can we please call a press conference so that Gargoyl can inform the world that all we needed was some green tea and Zinc!

Yep, all the hallmarks of a typical conspiracy theory.

The EGCG green tea component is also good for brain function.
This will assist with the inordinate intellectual effort that is required to prove me wrong and which I am certain will only result in uncovering the truth that has been freely passed on and from which I receive zero commission. What is more, there is no evidence that 3 cups of green tea and one zinc tablet per day will cause any harm to anyone. No matter what the WHO may say.

He/she has shares in the greentea business….

The ANC will always take the stupidist most destructive option.

That’s why there’s no urgency to get to lockdown 2 or to relax before Kenya etc.

Still plenty to loot on covid spending too.

It’s truly devastating to be confronted by the true on a news commentary forum.

I had Covid, was a rather unpleasant experience – i’ll have you know.

However, it seems to me that all the nights of fever hallucinations and being too hot or too cold. Having issues breathing were all worth it. My kidney failure too.

With you by my side Gargoyl(e) we are going to be rich!!

I will start filling the papers on Vital, I have been drinking Zinc Complex, Selenium Complex and Kelp all my life, since i can remember. Now you, are telling me that they’ve been selling me compressed powder, boy. Heads will role.

You can start by filling the papers against Twining’s, not sure which you préfère, i mostly enjoy the lemon, the strawberry one, the pineapple one, but let’s net get snobbish let’s stick to the OG Twinings Green Leaf tea.

This is too a habit that i have formed, when i was younger suffering from skin breakouts and migraines if i had coffee. Guess what i switched too, Hint: Green tea. Back then there was only lipton, twinings and more unfamiliar brands. But now the world is my hippy oyster.

I got Corona, I tested positive, on the 20th March just after 0600 the morning. So weird right, I assumed it was a joke so i had them do two. Positive, again, what are the odds, ammirite?

I. almost. died. I couldn’t breath and my fever ranged between 39.5 and 49. Due to the shortness of breathe i fell down the stair hit my head, that’s where my mother found me a day later for not picking up my phone.

So, Gargoyl(e) once you’re finished bathing yourself in Tshabalala’s HIV remedy, (i’ve got some spare garlic, just shout if you need) open a book and read it. Don’t go on to facebook, that’s not always all true, or even 100% accurate, i did a quiz on there once, to find out which spongebob character i was, it gave me Squidward where i believe in much more of a Planton. I cannot explain to you the anger and rage i felt, got all hot.

Due to this new feeling of heavy breathing and fury, i switch on that adsl dial up connection, got on to google, punched in my symptoms. Guess what you guys, according to WebMD i had cancer. Imagine that double whammy.

So please, before you make calls on what is too be done, educate yourself. Some pretty crazy stuff out there.

Just for pointless informal mental data collection, Gargoyl(e); –

What’s it like knowing that you live in a world so rife with information, and you have the option to still learn so much. Whatever peaks your interest. At a click of a button.

I have realised that I now have a new opinion towards you. Not going to lie. The first impression, not great. If you had said this as a social occasion with people other than your likeminded, ahm, clan, if you will. It would be carnage. We’d have to extinguish the braai, call it a night. Also, the e, why did you misspell your username, are you in a band or famous? Is this trademarked? What’s the story there?

But now, now i envy you, so much more to learn.

You must, you and your clan, start a blog, in order for you to express your fury and vengeance. In order for the people, with proper comments can comment here. Cause now, all we’ve done is tried to make you see the light and not focus on the article.

On your blog, do share your recipe for the perfect green matcha cap- i’ve been longing for a good one!

#letsgetthegreengoing

Green tea and Zinc ???? Amazing !!!!! Sounds just as good as beetroot and showering to cure AIDS.

Agreed. A complete nothing burger. 11000 odd deaths vs 10000 deaths in a normal flu season.

And for this we have destroyed the economy and the lives of around 20m people at least.

Idiocy at its very best

Whoever drafted this piece went to same school the president’s speech writer did. It’s like having a conversation on your mobile phone in the car with open windows with a Cape Town gale force blowing outside.

What this virus has really shown is that when Governments take charge a complete shambles closely follows .
The world has been completely hoodwinked by their respective governments and the ones that have lost are
employees in the private sector . NO GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE HAS LOST EVEN ONE DAY OF WAGES OR LOST THEIR JOB . THINK ABOUT THAT STAT FOR A MOMENT ……

The inevitable march to a crushing global socialism is in full swing…and the virus is just a pretext to achieve the dystopian nightmare about to unfold…

The privileged government employees are planning a mass strike for higher wages while everyone else loses their jobs. The government employees haven’t even worked and received a full salary, not that they ever work and are underpaid…

No Government employee lost their jobs because they have an employer that is the last to go bankrupt (technically), revenue secured from taxpayers, and strong unions. They are the epitomy of too big to fail.

That’s part of the bigger objective, Mugabe formalised the land/farm grabs and now 20 years later the result as finally tilted both ways, Covid-19 was god sent for the same Capitalist destroying approach for the benefit of the few. Any bets on who will possibly in the future own Sun City ? The local jewels are beyond agricultural reaches. Forget alcohol and nicotine, the lust & greed for power as result of wealth is a drug like no other.

That, the creation of well rewarded “army” govt employees, is designed to create a solid support for the dictatorship politburo. Loyal government employees will be nasty and repressive with even more powers and rewards being granted to them in order to sustain their undying loyalty. They will be an extension of the elite cadres, the related patronage networks, etc. They will be the foundation of the dictatorship and there will be no regard for citizens. Mock elections might continue but there will be more and more rules and regulations and decrees which will ensure that one party retains control of the criminal state. Zim. and Venezuela are typical examples. A more finessed approach is being carried out by China. Look at Hong Kong.

Mmmn, unfortunately, I suspect we may still be disappointed.

In the last day or two, certain medical professors that are members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) have been publicly warning of the risks of “second peak in a few months time” as a consequence of relaxing our lockdown. They go on to list other countries where this has happened.

Ramaphosa will consult (and consult) and will want to satisfy all stakeholders, but in the end, medical advisors hold sway.

I do hope sanity prevails, but I am not optimistic that it will.

I beg to differ.
Medical advisors are not the ones calling the shots.

When NDZ decided that they raked in enough billions from illicit trades, that is when this draconian insanity will stop.

Lock down to this lot is like putting your bed on bricks to avoid the tokoloshe.

Why give up on it? it works!

Those who put their beds on bricks have never been bothered by the tokoloshe so they keep doing it.

How did Ramaphosa became a billionaire, he doesn’t know how to run a country.A country is a business.

Didn’t you know he’s a BEE beneficiary; and not just any old one either – one of the first when that policy was almost exclusively designed to benefit only the politically connected….in other words, before the ANCs (failed) attempts to make it “broad-based” and share the loot with others….

Its easy to control people who are in fear and desperate and heading to bankruptcy .

Wine and beer in 500ml bottles. That is very clever. So Consol and Breweries should fire up their foundries for these new bottles and the vineyards should decant their bottled labelled win into the covid eliminating 500ml bottles that this committee prescribes.

Sure, makes a lot of sense

and this crowd are going to run a functional national health scheme ….? And are going to expropriate land without jeopardising food security.

ReallY ?

#VoetsekANC

and give us green tea for free

Don’t forget the zinc

The purge continues……

Off to the pub early today. Ooops SHHH!! Don’t tell.

Its a “speakeasy” Drinks are cheap smoking allowed and the owner does not even have to pay tax. No licence fees no ANC nonsense.

Back n business so not many really care about what he has to say anymore. The less said the better.

Many little “community” businesses are being established. One has to survive and keeping them local is the way to go.

I think many if these comments are by people who are possibly smoking green tea or something they can legally grow in their back yard.!

Mouthful message in the image in this story.

The shebeens are causing the filling of hospital beds – they should be locked down – not the rest of the country.

The government is scared that the shebeens will cry discrimination, if only they are locked down. Firstly, they are the problem and secondly there are more black voters being affected in the restaurant and wine industries than in the shebeen industry.

International flights?…why then do KLM, Virgin, Emirates BA and china south air appear to be flying daily into ORT (not cargo fligts)…are these repatriation flights or are the anc granting concessions for their political cadres?

Tshivhengwa is right. To add my two cents; Closing our borders made sense when all the sick people were in other countries. Now that Corona is here there is no increased risk in opening up for international travel.

We are (and have been for a long time) at a stage where our response to the virus is doing more harm than the virus itself.

Secondly, gyms desperately need to open. If they can open they will be able to collect debit orders from members again – that will save businesses and jobs. Not to say people will return to gyms in large numbers- for fear of the virus, but at least gyms can get their debit order income again.

I am certain that the resentment this circus of a government has created will most definitely increase tax evasion and ultimately a revolt somewhere along the lines.

CR has proven to all that he is completely incompetent and ineffective in dealing with satans children.

Unfortunately, there is no alternative party, Da to busy sha$$ing each other behind the scenes, no credible or ethical youth.

Sure the DA has lost support but to suggest there’s no alternative to the ANC is entirely defeatist…
There are many alternatives and no need to vote ANC!

End of comments.

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