BUSINESS NEWS & VIDEO - President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his briefing last night (17 June) that the personal care industry, which has been vocal about its struggles to survive financially since the start of lockdown, will reopen.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on South Africa’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19 this evening. The presidential address followed a number of meetings of the Cabinet, the National Coronavirus Command Council and the Presidential Coordinating Council.
“South Africa remains at lockdown Level 3, but additional sectors of our economy will now be allowed to reopen as long as strict measures are in place to ensure physical distancing and personal hygiene.”
These economic 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, casinos, personal care services including hairdressers and beauty services, non-contact sports and 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 and will need to be put in place before a business can re-open, and protocols will need to be strictly adhered to for businesses to remain open,” said Ramaphosa.
Before announcing the reopening of these industries, Ramaphosa again emphasised that the lockdown allowed South Africa time to prepare and enhance its health systems and time to implement systems to minimise the spread.
“We have established 100 quarantines centres and identification of additional health personnel continues. Even after almost 100 days of lockdown, we still know that this virus will remain with us for many more months and possibly years. It is like running a marathon race and not a sprint.”
He said that the number of infections increased rapidly in recent weeks with the Western Cape hardest hit and accounting for about 60 per cent of the national number of cases.
Ramaphosa added that the Eastern Cape is showing an increase in numbers. “We suspect that this province is a few weeks behind the Western Cape.
“Many of you are concerned about being infected and these concerns are reasonable especially as South Africa gradually resumes more activities. We know the risk increases.
“Although the risk of infection is becoming greater, it can be addressed through our behaviour to reduce the possibility of being infected. Through our actions, we can delay the spread.”
The president emphasised the need to wear a mask in public and urged all South Africans to continue with this habit.
“Masks are not a substitute for hygiene. Handwashing as well as social distancing remain some of the most effective means to reduce the spread of the virus.
“These basic practices are becoming even more important as we continue to ease lockdown regulations.”
Ramaphosa said that government realised that from the outset extreme measures were needed to slow community transmission.
“We also knew the lockdown could not be sustained.
“Our response now is focused on hotspot areas and sending multi-disciplinary teams to contain outbreaks. Like many other countries, SA has been affected by a shortage of test kits.
“We have thus become more targeted in our testing by prioritising hospital patients, health workers and the elderly.”
Announcing the reopening of the mentioned sectors, Ramaphosa acknowledged that the pandemic is also an economic crisis.
“We know there have been businesses that have not earned any income and people have not received salaries for over 80 days, even with the measures put in place to assist business and workers via the relief packages announced by government.
“It was important for us to open personal care services as this sector employs many women. These past few months have been extremely difficult on women working in salons, spas and so forth and many of these businesses are owned by women.”
Ramaphosa continued, “It is with a heavy heart that I stand before these women about another pandemic – the killing of women and children by the men of our country. I am appalled at what is no less than a war on the women and children of SA.
“At a time when virus left us all and vulnerable, violence is being unleashed on women and children with a brutality that defies any form of comprehension. Women are raped and these rapists walk amongst us. They are fathers and brothers and sons. They are violent men with no regard for human life.
“Over the past few weeks, no fewer than 21 women and children have been murdered. Their killers thought they could silence them. But we will not forget them and we will speak for them where they cannot. We will speak for Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo, Nompumelelo Tshaka, Nomfazi Gabada, Nwabisa Mgwandela, Altecia Kortjie and Lindelwa Peni, all young women who were killed by men.”
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