Durban – The DA's John Steenhuisen is calling for an end to all Covid-19 restrictions.
This following reports that the country could be in for one more 'My fellow South Africans' family meeting in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla is proposing an easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the areas of tourism, travel and leisure.
"We hope the reviewed health regulations and others from other departments will assist in a guided reopening of various economic and social activities especially in the leisure and tourism areas with less risk of super spreaders. The proposals will include amendments to travel requirements which could make it easier and cheaper to travel safely. Details will only be available after discussion at the National Coronavirus Command Council," he said.
Steenhuisen noted that March 23 will be two years since the country was placed on lockdown.
"Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, thousands of livelihoods have been destroyed, millions of school and university days have been missed, and billions of rand lost to tax revenue, which could have gone to poverty relief. It is time to focus all of our energies on regaining and transcending what has been lost," he said.
Here are the DA's four reasons for wanting to end lockdown
The pandemic phase is over
"The fourth Covid-19 wave in December 2021 was not associated with significant hospital pressure. Despite the fourth wave, there have been almost no additional deaths in people under 60 since early September 2021, except for one week over Christmas," Steenhuisen said.
He added that older people have been less seriously affected than previously.
"This is a result of a combination of prior infection, and vaccination, particularly of the older population, providing protection against severe disease and death," he said.
Level 1 is harming SA
Level 1 and other ministry-specific restrictions seem harmless, but they are not.
Steenhuisen said the tourism industry used to support 10% of all jobs in South Africa. Its recovery is hamstrung by requirements such as a negative PCR test to enter the country, imposing a significant additional cost.
"While the rest of the world has filled stadiums for sport and shows, in South Africa, the Soweto Derby had to take place in an empty stadium this weekend. Outdoor and indoor limits of 2 000 and 1 000 prevent the events industry from reviving," he said.
Covid-19 no longer a greater threat
"Like other countries, we need to licence cheap and quick rapid tests for home use so that people can judge for themselves if they pose a risk to the vulnerable. It makes no sense to limit these to medical supervision," Steenhuisen said.
Steenhuisen said government is planning to make some of these and other restrictions permanent by legislating them.
"This will continue to strangle our economy, harm young people in education, and deepen worsening poverty. The only part of the disaster regulations that should stay in place is the SOD (social relief of distress) grant – precisely because of the jobs crisis. Nothing else is justified," he said.