Ramaphosa expected to reduce lockdown tonight

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to reduce some of South Africa’s lockdown restrictions tonight.

Rosemary Anderson, chair of Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA), told the Sunday Times that the organisation is confident Ramaphosa will be easing the country’s travel and alcohol bans to help the economy.

“Without lifting the alcohol ban most restaurants will no longer be financially viable, as big portions of profits come from alcohol sales,” said Anderson.

This was echoed by Lucky Ntimane, convener of the National Liquor Traders Council.

“The alcohol industry in its entire value chain, which includes restaurants, hotels, taverns and pubs, creates employment for 1-million people. South Africa’s 40,000 taverns employ 200,000 people, who because they are not formally employed, do not qualify for government relief aid,” explained Ntimane.

“Couple the economic effects of the ban, which includes SARS not receiving R1.5bn in revenue because of the latest violence, and the government will be forced to lift the ban to kick-start the economy.”

“In the space of a week of looting, more booze is circulating illicitly in society than what would be if alcohol could be sold legally,” Ntimane added.

Third wave past its peak

This follows acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane confirming on Friday that the pandemic is “on a downward trend.”

This includes the new cases number falling under 5,000 on Friday in Gauteng – down from a peak of 16,000 earlier in the third wave.

Mmamoloko Tryphosa Kubayi-Ngubane South African Minister of Tourism
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will meet today to discuss the current restrictions, with Ramaphosa expected to address the country in the evening.

On Saturday, South Africa recorded 12,056 new COVID-19 cases, including 3,670 in Gauteng and 2,587 in the Western Cape.

413 new COVID-19-related deaths were reported, while 49,589 tests were conducted over the last 24-hour period.

Bloomberg also speculates that Ramaphosa could unveil a package focused on helping people and businesses affected by the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng riots.

The National Economic Development and Labor Council has reportedly tabled proposals including the reintroduction of a temporary welfare grant, tax relief, and loan guarantees for businesses affected by the riots.

Good vaccine news

Daily vaccination numbers have picked up since the national riots, Kubayi-Ngubane added, with over 250,000 shots being administered on a daily basis, while African nations including South Africa received another boost last week with the news that Pfizer will be producing its COVID-19 vaccine at a Cape Town facility.

Pfizer and BioNTech SE have signed a letter of intent with Biovac Institute to manufacture vaccine shots using the facility.

The companies expect to bring Biovac’s Cape Town-based facility into their coronavirus vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021, and to begin producing finished doses in 2022.

This will help Pfizer deliver over 100 million doses to African nations on an annual basis.

Now read: Alcohol restrictions in South Africa could be relaxed

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Ramaphosa expected to reduce lockdown tonight