Western Cape's call not to move to level 2 ahead of Easter criticised
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Cape Town – Parties in the Western Cape have decried the statement by Premier Alan Winde, who said the Western Cape government did not support a move to lockdown level 2, as it was not supported by the province’s data, and would undermine economic recovery.
This comes as the Presidency confirmed President Cyril Ramaphosa would address the nation at 7pm tonight.
The address follows meetings in recent days of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) and Cabinet.
Winde said the province’s response to Covid-19 had from the beginning been based on data, evidence and science.
“We have also always maintained that a balance must be achieved in saving both lives and livelihoods in our province. This is because a humanitarian crisis caused by economic restrictions will also cost lives in the Western Cape and South Africa.
“In considering whether a move to alert level 2 should be introduced ahead of the upcoming religious holidays, we have again applied these guiding principles and compared the data available to us.”
He arguedthe reason why the move to level 2 would be bad was because of the province’s health platform data, as per last week’s DigiCon, which shows:
- There continues to be a decline in cases, admissions and deaths in the Western Cape (although starting to plateau).
- The proportion of positive tests remains stable at 5.1%.
- The province is approaching the situation seen between the first and second waves, although that point has not been reached yet.
- The reproductive number remains below 1.
- Cases in the Cape Metro declined by 20%, while cases in the rural districts overall have declined by 26%.
- 18 treatment plants have detected no Covid-19 in wastewater, up from nine previously.
- Occupancy in Covid-19 beds in the Cape Metro is at 15%, in the George drainage area at 16%, in the Paarl drainage area at 21%, and the Worcester drainage area at 23%.
He said on the other hand the province is just starting to see signs of a delicate recovery after being hit hard last year.
Winde said the Easter period was important for domestic tourism in South Africa and limiting demand now would result in more job losses.
He said the previous beach ban was estimated to have cost the tourism sector at least R120 million a month. He said the first two bans on alcohol had already resulted in an estimated 165 000 job losses country wide, and this sector was important for sustaining agriculture jobs in the Western Cape.
“When comparing this concerning data with the current status of our health platform, it becomes clear that moving to alert level 2 at this stage would not achieve the balance we need to save both lives and livelihoods in the Western Cape.
“I am particularly worried that it will level another devastating blow to our tourism and hospitality economy in the Western Cape. One must also consider that there are currently numerous restrictions in place under alert level 1, which need to be properly enforced to ensure compliance with important health protocols.
“With this said, our government will continue to do everything we can to ensure we delay a possible third wave for as long as possible.”
The EFF and Good Party said despite the premier’s claims he was“listening to the science”, he was disregarding the concerns raised over the forthcoming holidays.
Good Party’s Brett Herron said: “We must do everything we can to avoid a massive spike in infections or bringing on a devastating third wave.
“The premier claims to be listening to science but he is clearly doing so selectively because just two weeks ago the Premier's Health Department said it was ’extremely worried’ about the Easter and Ramadaan gatherings.
“We must do what it takes to avoid the need for another harsh lockdown. If that requires some sensible temporary restrictions to prevent super-spreader gatherings this weekend then we should make that small sacrifice to try and avoid a much harsher and more devastating lockdown if infections spike.”
EFF Western Cape chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: “The premier does not care about the possible dangers that Covid-19 poses on people particularly the poor and he would rather risk people’s lives in trying to protect the pocket of the rich.
“There is currently a talk of a looming third wave and as the province we need to be super vigilant and proactive rather than being reactive. We should at all material times minimise any possible loss of life and even it means we need to go to level 2, so be it.
“As the province we call for caution and encourage the residents of the province to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and those around them.
“As the EFF we are not arguing that business should not operate but we submit that they should operate within acceptable Covid-19 regulations. This also applies to political activities, they must happen within established rules.”