Tag: COVID-19 Lockdown

Vinpro VS Government Alcohol Ban in Court Today

The non-profit company Vinpro, representing 3,500 SA wine producers, will head to court on Monday (23 August) to fight the government’s ongoing alcohol ban and fully reopen the industry. Since the beginning of the national lockdown in March 2020, there has been four complete bans of alcohol.

Under the current adjusted level 3 lockdown, which came into effect on 26 July, the sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption is only permitted between 10h00 and 18h00 from Monday to Thursday. Alcohol sales for on-site consumption are however permitted as per licence conditions up to 20h00.

Vinpro is contesting the approach followed by the government towards alcohol restrictions within the Disaster Management Act. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Western Cape High Court from 23 to 26 August 2021.

“Since the start of this pandemic, we have argued that the provinces, not the national government, should decide whether or not to impose liquor restrictions and should do so with reference to provincial circumstances, including the need to preserve capacity in trauma units in hospitals in the province,” said Vinpro managing director Rico Basson.

“We know provinces are affected differently by the pandemic; therefore, we believe a differentiated approach in handling the crisis is needed to limit the economic impact of a lockdown.”

Vinpro already launched its legal application during the second wave of Covid-19 cases in January 2021 and has also approached the court to include evidence for how the blanket liquor ban missed its purpose during the third wave.

“While we have challenged the government’s decision by way of an urgent interdict application and hearing on 21 July 2021, the matter was subsequently rendered academic because the ban was partially lifted four days later.

“In an interim application, we now ask that this evidence should also be taken into account,” Basson said.

The government has strongly opposed its application to introduce such further evidence, arguing that it is moot as the ban has been partially lifted.

“However, we have seen how the government has dealt with the previous liquor bans. A blanket ban is imposed repeatedly, and with a fourth wave likely to hit the country in December, this issue most certainly is not moot,” said Basson.

“Wine is part of agriculture, as is tourism. Our industry supports 80,183 people working at farm level and 228,053 people working further down the wine value chain.”

According to Basson, the wine industry has built a strong brand reputation as a unique asset.

“The South African wine industry is more than a drink; it’s a livelihood. And it is our responsibility to make sure we save this industry for future generations.”

covid+lockdown

Bad news: Level 3 lockdown won’t be ending anytime soon…

Cabinet has confirmed that the current Level 3 lockdown regulations will remain in place for the foreseeable future. The news comes after spokesperson Phumla Williams briefed the media on several matters.

LEVEL 3 REMAINS, AS VACCINES OPEN UP FOR ALL

As well as providing updates on economic support measures and other government business, Williams also congratulated Olympians Tatjana Schoenmaker and Bianca Buitendag – the only South Africans to win medals in Tokyo.

However, COVID-19 measures topped the agenda, and it was also announced that 18-34-year-olds can now go and get their vaccines from Friday onwards. That means every adult will have been offered their first jab by 20 August 2021, raising hopes that the impact of any future COVID-19 waves will be blunted by high levels of immunity.

There are concerns about the elderly age group, whose vaccine uptake hasn’t been too convincing. Men in Gauteng have also shown a reluctance to get their inoculations. However, it’s hoped that the infectious enthusiasm of the youth – the last cohort to get their invite for the vaccines – will help drive numbers up across the board.

NO CHANGE FOR LOCKDOWN ALERT LEVEL IN SA

Sadly, this positive news for vaccination doesn’t change the situation with Level 3 of lockdown. Cases remain stubbornly high, and the Cabinet has elected to keep the handbrake on for the time being:

“Cabinet further approved the keeping of the country under the Risk-Adjusted Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, as advised by the Ministerial Advisory Committee. Cabinet encourages all unvaccinated people in South Africa to get vaccinated because vaccines protect us from getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and they save lives.”

“Scientific evidence confirms that vaccinated people stand a better chance of surviving from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people. Therefore, we must all dispel the misleading conspiracy theories about vaccines and choose life by vaccinating.”

covid+lockdown

Put Gauteng on level 5 lockdown – Sanco

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in Gauteng today called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to speed up the process of procuring Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines, as the country experiences a rapid rise in new infections and deaths.

“Sanco calls on the president to have a warp speed process as it relates to the distribution of the vaccine and the procurement thereof.

“Sanco officially calls for the National Coronavirus Command Council to make recommendations to the president, that doses from China and Russia be procured with immediate effect,” Sanco Gauteng chairman Chris Malematja said.

“This must be done at warp speed to protect lives and livelihoods.”

Yesterday, South Africa reported 11 093 new Covid-19 cases, with Gauteng accounting for the lion’s share at 67% of the tally, while the Western Cape was a distant second with 8%, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Gauteng recorded 7 471 new cases compared with 6 292 on Monday.

The country reported 297 Covid-19-related deaths yesterday, a major spike from 93 on Monday, taking the national death toll from the virus to 59 092 to date.

Sanco called for a stricter lockdown to be implemented in Gauteng.

“With the understanding that lives and livelihoods (are both) to be defended, it is the view of (Sanco) that the province is taken back to level 5 for a period not exceeding 14 days. As drastic as this may be, this may be one of the only remedies, outside of the vaccine, to ensure that national regulations are adhered to by the general populace,” Malematja said.

David Makhura hints at harder lockdown for Gauteng

Gauteng premier David Makhura has hinted at a harder lockdown level in the province, saying Gauteng was looking at “extraordinary measures”.

Speaking during his visit to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic hospital at the weekend, Makhura raised concerns about the rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions.

He said the province was forced to look at extraordinary measures to combat the spread of the virus amid a third wave of infections.

“Level 2, as we have it now, does not have a sufficient impact because people are going on as if we [are] not in the middle of a raging pandemic,” said Makhura.

“We are looking at extraordinary measures, including those we took last time,” he added, saying the province had asked for increased measures.

Makhura said, for the province to curb the spread of the virus, government would need the support of residents.

“We need the support of the people of our province, at the moment all we can say is that we are not seeing a difference in the number of people gathering at places,” said Makhura.

He said the response to the second wave in January was amazing and everybody took measures to protect themselves “but at the moment we are not seeing that”.

“No one should say ‘I got it (Covid-19) earlier on so I’m OK. I can walk around’. Even those who are vaccinated should continue to put on their mask,” urged Makhura.

Speaking on SABC news on Sunday, acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said SA was not near reaching herd immunity when it comes to its vaccination rollout.

She said, because of the increasing Covid-19 cases nationally, her department would make recommendations to the national command council this week.

“We are not yet at a place where we have reached herd immunity and the basic things that we need to do to contain the virus remain critical. The wearing of masks and sanitising of hands are still very important.

“If South Africans continue to behave recklessly, numbers will go up. We are expecting to make other pronouncements on restrictions to the national coronavirus command council this week,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

Lockdown restrictions? Ramaphosa to address the nation

It seems another ‘family meeting’ is on the cards for South Africa as President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to give an address to the nation on Thursday evening, 3 December 2020.

Although the details surrounding what he has to say remain unclear, it is believed he will be announcing a series of tough measures as parts of the country experience a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. According to several reports, Ramaphosa will be re-imposing restrictions in areas which are considered hotspots for the coronavirus.

It is believed that these new measures will include a curfew as well as bans surrounding the consumption and purchasing of alcohol, which has long been a contentious issue since being initially prohibited when the country went into lockdown back in March.

South Africa has so far recorded 796 472 cases of COVID-19 since the respiratory illness was first detected here on home soil back in March. Depending on who you ask, the country may be losing its grip on the pandemic, with a record 4 173 new cases having been recorded on Wednesday, 2 December 2020.

Speculation is rife that Ramaphosa will be slapping the Eastern Cape and Western Cape with heightened lockdown restrictions, due to the spike in infections in both provinces.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has fiercely criticised Ramaphosa’s handling of the virus and on occasion, hinted that the province had everything under control. However, in what some might call an about turn, he expressed concern over the rising COVID-19 figures. The Western Cape, once the epicentre of the virus in the country, has witnessed a 52.1% jump in new cases, with an established pattern over time.

“Last week, we issued a hotspot alert for the Garden Route, following an alarming growth of cases in the area. This surge has continued to gain momentum and there are now more active cases in George and Knysna sub-districts than at any point in the pandemic to date,” Winde has said.

Meanwhile the Eastern Cape has drawn the attention of Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who visited the area after noticing a rise in infections, particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“The numbers are now driven by new cases, mainly in two provinces, Eastern Cape, which on daily numbers reflect about 50% to 55% of daily positive cases, followed by Western Cape which on a daily report seems to increase by 25%,” Mkhize said.

Covid-19 News London will go into local lockdown

London will go into local lockdown from Friday with household mixing banned

Household mixing will be banned in London as of midnight on Friday.  UK government, Boris Johnson, said that the English capital would be moved into the “high” Covid-19 tier amid rising new infections, the capital’s members of parliament have been told.

As of Saturday, Londoners will be prohibited from mixing with other households in homes and other indoor settings, including hospitality venues, after the UK government agreed with London mayor Sadiq Khan that the city required tougher restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

UK health minister Helen Whateley announced the news to London members of Parliament in a call on Thursday morning, with Prime Minister Johnson expected to confirm it in a statement later in the day.

People in the capital will be allowed to continue visiting pubs, bars, and restaurants, but only with people from the same household.

Khan has been pushing for London’s alert status to changed from “medium” to “high” and had a meeting with UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty on Wednesday, the Times of London reports.

London was put in the least serious category — “medium” — when Prime Minister Johnson unveiled the government’s new tiered system for enforcing local lockdowns earlier this week.

However, while the number of infections and hospitalizations in the capital are not as high as in the north of England, they have been growing exponentially with Khan this week warning that the virus was spreading “so quickly.”

Lockdown: 10 Reasons for the Alcohol Ban.

According to Dr Zweli Mkhize, the data behind the alcohol ban shows that there was a significant reduction in alcohol-related trauma cases at our hospitals. However, the number of cases increased significantly when the ban was eased.

“Projections show that we could alleviate the pressure on hospitals by stopping thousands of alcohol-related trauma cases in only the first week after the alcohol ban.”

The 10 reasons for the Alcohol Ban.

 

 

 

 

 

GAUTENG: Harder lockdown could be in the cards.

Gauteng premier David Makhura says that the ‘Covid-19 storm’ has arrived in the province which could necessitate the reintroduction of stricter lockdown rules, according to Business Tech.

Speaking in a media briefing on Thursday (2 July), Makhura said that the province saw an exponential rise in the number of coronavirus cases in June, as well as a significant increase in fatalities.

And, he warned that July will be ‘even more difficult’.

“We don’t want to do something for dramatic purposes without achieving results. But it is quite clear that we are going to have to do something extraordinary given where we are now.

This may mean asking the national command council to introduce some of the restrictions we had in the earlier phases (of the lockdown).”

Makhura said that Gauteng now has the largest number of active cases at more than 3,000 new cases daily. This means that the pandemic is running ‘slightly ahead’ of the projected models.

“We think there may be a case for harder localized lockdown in areas where the infection rate is getting out of hand and people are not observing the measure being put in place.”

Specific issues which are set to be discussed include:

  • The sale of alcohol – including the hours when it may be sold;
  • The return of more school students, with an estimated 1 million expected to return as of 6 July;
  • The reopening of churches and other specific sectors.

Makhura said that consultations on these issue will be held on Saturday, while the final decision will have to be made at the national level by the NCCC.

“A risk-adjusted strategy means that you look at the hotspots and make a case that a different approach may be needed (in these areas).

Given what we are going through now, and the fact that things will get worse in July, we cannot just throw our hands in the air and say that there is nothing that we can do.”

 

Source: BusinessTech

SA LOCKDOWN: Rules for sit-down restaurants

The directive was published late on Monday evening (29 June), meaning the mentioned businesses can now open immediately.

These businesses include:

  • Restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops;
  • Lodges, bed and breakfast, timeshare facilities and resorts and guest houses;
  • Self-drive excursions;
  • Conference and meeting venues;

The basic rules for restaurants:

  • Restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops must keep a daily record of the full names, ID number or passport number, nationality, nature of position (i.e. temporary, casual or permanent), residential address, and cell phone numbers of all employees and delivery persons;
  • Ensure that every employee and delivery person is screened on arrival for shifts and on departing after shifts;
  • Provide employees with masks to wear and hand sanitiser;
  • Ensure that an area is demarcated for the collection of orders for delivery that is separate from the place where food is prepared;
  • Ensure that a contactless pickup zone for customers whose orders are ready to be collected is designated;
  • Sit-down restaurants must conduct a screening questionnaire and take precautionary measures to protect the person and other persons on the premises. Such measures may include denying such a person access to the premises;
  • Ensure that customers or guests wear masks at all times while they are on their premises except when eating or drinking;
  • Ensure that customers or guests queue at least one and a half meters apart behind each other or sideways;
  • Remove excess chairs /stools and tables or tables combined to enlarge the floor space while reducing and spreading seat capacity to enforce distancing of one and a half meters between guests or customers;
  • Consider a reservation system to manage demand, and help ensure that capacity limits are adhered to;
  • No buffets may be offered to guests for self -service;
  • Food may only be plated and/or provided in covered single portions;
  • Guests may pickup pre-portioned items and any other buffet service should be handled by food service employees only from behind Perspex or similar protective shields;
  • Menus must be replaced with non -touch options or sanitised after each guest use;
  • Where possible and for instance while taking orders, waiting staff must stand at least a meter from tables;
  • Where possible, tablecloths should be removed from tables. Only essential items such as salt and pepper, should remain on tables and be sanitised after each guest;
  • Remove excess chairs /stools and tables or tables combined to enlarge the floor space while reducing and spreading seat capacity to enforce distancing of one and a half meters between guests or customers;
  • Items on waiting stations must be minimised;
  • Clearing and cleaning systems with designated containers for different items and sealable refuse containers for food waste must be implemented and used.

It should be noted that the directive makes no provision for the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption.

Link to the directive:

https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202006/43487gen356.pdf

 

Source: BusinessTech

Photo Credit: Unsplash

ECONOMY: Worst recession in 90 years expected in SA

South Africa’s economy is now expected to contract by 7.2 percent in 2020, its largest shrinkage in nearly 90 years, dragged down by the ravages of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday.

Mboweni placed infrastructure development at the centre of reviving economic growth.

He said commodity price increases and a weaker oil price had softened the blow, but that as a small open economy reliant on exports South Africa had been hit hard by both the collapse in global demand and the restrictions to economic activity brought on by the health crisis.

A supplementary budget review also published by the National Treasury on Wednesday said millions of jobs were at risk and millions of households were experiencing increased hardship.

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on South Africa,” the National Treasury said.

“All economic sectors have experienced a sharp downturn and small businesses in particular face extreme pressure. Tax revenue projections are down sharply.”

In its main budget review in February, the Treasury had predicted economic growth of 0.9 percent in 2020 for Africa’s most industrialised economy compared with a modest 0.2 percent last year.

On Wednesday, the department said the epidemiological path and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic were both highly uncertain and evolving rapidly, necessitating rapid adjustments in policy and forecasts.

It said over the past three months, the government had prioritised public health to save lives and had taken the difficult step of severely restricting economic activity at a time when gross domestic product (GDP) growth was already weak.

“South Africa’s R500 billion fiscal relief package is designed to help households and businesses to weather the short-term effects of the crisis,” the Treasury added.

The Treasury noted that it had for several years been warning that an absence of fiscal space would leave South Africa vulnerable to external shocks.

“That risk is now a reality,” it said. “At the time of the (February) 2020 budget, economic growth was already low and the fiscal position had deteriorated significantly. South Africa has begun heading into a debt spiral.”

In his budget speech, Finance Minister Mboweni proposed R21.5 billion for Covid‐19-related healthcare spending in a supplementary budget tabled in reaction to the pandemic and a further allocation of R12.6 billion to services at the frontline of South Africa’s response to the health crisis.

“Allocations have been informed by epidemiological modelling, a national health sector Covid‐19 cost model and our experiences over the past 100 days,” he said.

“This money partly supports increased screening and testing, allowing us to open up more and more of the economy.”

He said the country had successfully increased its Covid‐19 bed capacity to above 27 000, identified 400 quarantine sites with a capacity of around 36 000 beds across the country and deployed nearly 50 000 community healthcare workers to screen millions of South Africans.

Over 1.3 million people had been tested to date, he added.

The country’s nine provinces would add at least R5 billion for an education catch‐up plan, social welfare support for communities and the provision of quarantine sites by public works departments and responses in other sectors.

The finance minister said the government remained deeply concerned about the path of the virus.

“But, in common with several other countries that adopted a stringent, early lockdown, we have ‘flattened the curve’ and saved lives,” he added.

“The storm is not over. But, if we follow the health guidelines and make the right decisions to prepare for a new global reality then, soon enough, the days will grow calmer.”

Mboweni said building a bridge to a future beyond the current lockdown imposed to curb transmissions of Covid-19 would require building high‐quality physical bridges, roads, railways, ports and other infrastructure.

“Infrastructure will be the fly wheel by which we grow the economy,” the finance minister said.

“Just as we have toiled together to manage the pandemic, let us harness this same unity of purpose and build the infrastructure our nation needs. Our efforts to reduce consumption expenditure will also change the composition of spending in the direction of investment.”

Source: African News Agency (ANA)

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