President Cyril Ramaphosa took centre stage on Wednesday night, June 17. Scores of people waiting for him to update the nation on South Africa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is now just over 100 days since the first case of coronavirus was identified in South Africa. For 100 days we have been living in the shadow of one of the greatest threats to global health in over 100 years. The disease, and the measures we have taken to fight it, have caused massive disruption in the lives of our people, bringing our economy to a standstill and threatening the livelihoods of millions,” President Ramaphosa began.
With several businesses unable to operate since the implementation of the nationwide lockdown, millions of South Africans have faced financial difficulties. Scores of businesses facing overwhelming odds as they are unable to operate.
“Even with the measures we put in place to support companies, employees and poor households as part of the R500 billion relief package, there is a limit to how long these businesses can be closed,” said President Ramaphosa..
When announcing that the country would be moving to alert level 3 from June 1, Ramaphosa said the government would be giving consideration to re-opening other sectors of the economy. This is if the necessary safety precautions could be put in place and maintained.
“Following further discussions with industry representatives on stringent prevention protocols, and after advice from scientists and consultation with Premiers, Cabinet has decided to ease restrictions on certain other economic activities.”
These activities include:
- Restaurants for ‘sit-down’ meals
- Accredited and licensed accommodation, with the exception of home-sharing accommodation like AirBnB.
- Conferences and meetings for business purposes and in line with restrictions on public gatherings.
- Cinemas and theatres, to be aligned to limitations on the gathering of people.
- Personal care services, including hairdressers and beauty services
- Non-contact sports such as golf, tennis, cricket and others. Contact sports will be allowed only for training and modified activities with restricted use of facilities.
In each instance, specific and stringent safety requirements have been agreed on. They will need to be put in place before a business can re-open. Protocols will also need to be strictly adhered to for businesses to remain open.
Announcements will be made in due course to detail these measures. They will indicate the date from which these activities will be permitted.
“We have taken this decision with due care and seriousness, appreciating the risks associated with each activity and the measures needed to manage those risks. Altogether, these industries employed over 500,000 people before the lockdown. We have had to think about these people and those who depend on them for their livelihoods,” Ramaphosa said.
President Ramaphosa said it has been particularly important to open up personal care services. Mainly because this is an industry which predominantly employs women.
“The last three months have been particularly difficult for the millions of women who work as hairdressers, in spas, as therapists and technicians. Many of these are businesses are owned by women and a source of income in the informal sector.”
With a number of businesses set to open, what are your thoughts? Do you feel these businesses should have been opened earlier? Or do you feel it was necessary to delay their opening to fully prepare for their clientele?
Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.