CAPE TOWN - Various industries have reacted with disappointment to the extension of the National State of Disaster, which Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced will be in effect until February 15.
In a government gazette announcement published on Friday, Dlamini-Zuma said that the extension would keep the country on Alert Level 1.
George Business Chamber Vice-Chairperson, Dr Willie Cilliers, said they weren’t expecting the extension as some restrictions were eased and the curfew was cancelled completely in December.
“We really hope that this one is the last State of Disaster so that the economy in South Africa can run as normal again.
“For businesses in my area of George, it was quite evident that it was a very good (festive) season.
“But we are still short of 2019 when it comes to turnover figures.
“So we really hope that this one is the last State of Disaster,” he said.
DA Cogta spokesperson Cilliers Brink said the State of Disaster has been declared 21 consecutive times over the past two years.
“As if to underscore the careless manner in which government decisions are made, in default of clear direction and strategy, the wording of the latest extension notice has not changed.
“In essence, the minister claims that the government cannot deal with the Covid-19 pandemic under ordinary laws. If this claim was true at the outbreak of Covid-19, when the pandemic posed a serious risk to the health system, it is no longer true today,” said Brink.
This is as executive director of the Wits Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, Professor Shabir Madhi, said there was little reason for maintaining the current state of disaster.
“We are in a convalescent phase of the pandemic and highly unlikely that even with further resurgence and variants, we would experience the rate of severe disease and death as we did in the first three waves.
“This is a culmination of vaccine and natural-induced immunity that protects well against severe Covid, even though less effective against preventing infection.
“Although Covid will be ongoing, it would result in fewer deaths in SA than occurs annually with TB (58 000) and possibly in regions of what is caused by seasonal flu pre-Covid.
“Consequently, there is very little reason for maintaining the current State of Disaster and needs to be phased out as soon as possible,” Madhi said.