Political parties call for clarity on level 4 lockdown regulations
The 35-day hard national lockdown comes to an end Thursday midnight, which will see the country moved to level 4 where more businesses will be allowed to operate at a restricted level to avoid the spread of coronavirus in the workplace.
Political parties and other stakeholders had been invited to submit comments on the draft framework for level 4 to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosaza Dlamini-Zuma ahead of the publishing of the framework as regulations.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the party was supportive of the regulations provided they were fully guided by experts and the country’s infection rate.
However, Singh said the proposed regulations lacked clarity, including on how volumes of people would be managed as they would now get out of their homes for work and shopping as a result of more businesses being opened.
“Will all those people be required to provide essential permits? There needs to be clarity even how we will ensure that businesses comply with the safety rules to protect workers,” Singh said.
Under the framework for level 4, manufacturing companies would be allowed to operate, scaling from 20% to full employment depending on sector, while most wholesale retail trade would be permitted.
Alcohol sales would remain banned while restaurants would be allowed to prepare food only for delivery.
In its submitted comments, the DA complained the government was “too incremental” in opening up the economy, adding the incoming level 4 resembled the current hard lockdown.
Covid-19 has infected just under 5 000 people and killed over 90 people in the country, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has insisted the phase reopening of the economy had to ensure that the progress made by the country in containing the sporadic spread of the global pandemic was not undermined.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said: “We need to open up the economy far more than it is currently.
"Some of the regulations are blunt instruments. Some of them are not targeted enough and won’t have the desired effect of opening up the economy sufficiently so that we protect South Africans against the dual threat of a loss of life due to the virus and the loss of livelihoods in South Africa."
Business Leadership SA chief executive Busisiwe Mavuso said it would be challenging for the government to open certain sectors of the economy in isolation since they were interlinked.
“There are going to be difficulties. Supply chains stretch far and wide and few are truly independent from others. In a sense, everything is connected. The approach of letting certain parts of the economy operate – either geographically or segmentally – is almost inevitably going to run up against supply chain blockages,” Mavuso said.
While the DA threatened to go to court to challenge the deployment of more soldiers to enforce the level 4 lockdown which accompanied by a curfew, the IFP has called for the de-concentration of the enforcement in the urban areas and suggested it be accompanied by random raids in peri-urban and rural areas to ensure compliance.
The EFF rejected the government’s move to level 4 as “attempted genocide” should workers contract Covid-19 and infect other people.
Cosatu and Saftu had not yet made submissions.