President Ramaphosa will address South Africa tonight — what to expect

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address South Africa at 20h00 on Sunday regarding developments in the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Presidency announced in a statement.

“The President’s address will follow meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) and Cabinet which are taking place during the course of the day,” the Presidency said.

“As South Africa rolls out its Covid–19 vaccination programme, government and social partners are continuously monitoring infection, treatment and patient recovery rates as well as compliance with health regulations and other prevention measures.”

As before, the President’s address will be broadcast and streamed on a range of platforms accessible to South Africans and international audiences. The SABC will provide a live feed for all media.

The meetings of the NCCC, PCC, and Cabinet come two weeks after Ramaphosa moved the country to Alert Level 4 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Ramaphosa revealed at the time that the Delta variant of the coronavirus had taken hold in South Africa, causing a surge in new cases in Gauteng.

The adjusted level 4 lockdown regulations included a curfew of between 21:00 to 04:00, a ban on alcohol sales, restrictions on gatherings, and closing schools by bringing holidays forward.

Leisure travel into and out of Gauteng, which is experiencing a devastating third wave, was also banned as a measure to limit the movement of the virus.

CSIR researchers Ridhwaan Suliman and Jabu Mtsweni said that government should consider relaxing the travel ban, given that Covid-19 infections are seeded in all other provinces and rising.

“A travel ban on Gauteng is not only practically challenging but will have little effect on the epidemiological trajectories of other provinces now,” they said.

However, the area where they believe restrictions should remain firmly in place is gatherings.

South Africa’s alcohol industry has warned that an extension of the alcohol ban will lead to the permanent loss of thousands of jobs, while the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has cautioned against extending the current lockdown rules, which it said will decimate the industry.

While SA Medical Association vice-chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa has said that they have recommended the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption should be allowed for the sake of the economy, experts have said that the relaxing of the alcohol ban is unlikely.

Professor Alex van den Heever from the Wits School of Governance said infections in most provinces remain high, and he expects Ramaphosa to announce an extension of the current lockdown rules.

Stellenbosch University chief economist Hugo Pienaar also predicted an extension as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in some provinces.

“Irrespective of the dire impact on the hospitality, liquor, and aviation sectors, the state of the pandemic will make it very hard to relax the regulations,” he said.

While the lockdown rules are likely to be extended, schools are still set to open as initially planned.

Rapport reported that the Department of Basic Education recommended that schools reopen on 19 July after the holiday.

Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said they have received advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee that schools should still open on 19 July.

Now read: Boost for Covid-19 vaccine rollout in South Africa

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President Ramaphosa will address South Africa tonight — what to expect