Ramaphosa expected to maintain lockdown restrictions
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PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa looks likely to extend stricter lockdown regulations for a further two weeks as the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage South Africa.
The extension will see businesses in the tourism, hospitality and alcohol industries continue taking a heavy toll amid calls for the easing of the restrictions. Anchor Capital’s Nolan Wapenaar said maintaining the current level would push some restaurants, hotels and leisure businesses past the point of no return.
Wapenaar said reducing the lockdown restrictions too soon would cost human lives and also place a further burden on a hospital system that is at capacity.
“We have also noted that the consumer and business confidence levels are fickle and a protracted downturn in these could jeopardize the nascent recovery of our economy,” he said.
PwC economist Dr Christie Viljoen said restrictions were a negative for the consumer economy as a whole, and ramping up the vaccine roll-out would help kick-start the economy.
“The vaccine process is one key element needed to get the economy going. Based on the fact that none of the targets have been met, there is room for more private sector involvement especially since we don’t have enough money to get people vaccinated over weekends,” Viljoen said.
Ramaphosa is expected to announce the National Coronavirus Command Council’s decision about the state of the pandemic in South Africa on Sunday.
Old Mutual Investments chief economist Johann Els said there was a good probability that Level 4 lockdown was going to be extended.
Els said some restriction could, however, be eased slightly.
He said restaurants could be allowed to trade during the day and close at night while the alcohol ban may have limited sales.
“The government does not want to completely affect the economy, hence I have not made any adjustment to my 5.5% economic growth projection for this year,” he said.