NATIONAL NEWS - According to DA Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry Dean McPherson, there is little difference between the Level 5 and Level 4 regulations pertaining to business activities. This will be disastrous for millions of lives and livelihoods, he said during a media briefing on Level 4 lockdown last week.
"Government has essentially smuggled through an extension of the hard lockdown under the guise of easing restrictions." He said some of the regulations pertaining to the manufacturing sector are impractical and show lack of insight into the sophisticated systems of manufacturing. It could cause further hardship.
In its 'Smart Lockdown' plan, the DA proposes that for each lockdown level, government should specify the requirements for a business to be able to operate. Businesses can then decide if they are willing or able to meet those. "Surely the only criterion that matters here is the risk of spreading the virus. If this risk is minimal, then the business should be allowed to trade. Any other decision is purely authoritarian."
McPherson used the example of hairdressers and warned against the "devastating consequences" of keeping the hair and beauty industry closed till the country reaches Level 1 lockdown. Thousands of working-class citizens who run salons and barbers out of their homes to support their families will suffer. "It is an industry that can institute health protocols, and services are provided on a one-on-one basis."
The DA also proposes that e-commerce should be opened up as it offers the opportunity to get goods into people's homes without them going into stores. This could help businesses to contribute to the economy while they adhere to the health criteria. "It's been a huge disappointment to businesses that are scratching their heads and wondering how they're going to make it through this next period," said McPherson.
'Descent into pettiness'
At the briefing, Federal DA leader John Steenhuisen also called the alcohol and cigarette sales ban under the Level 4 regulations "irrational" and "a descent into pettiness".
He accused the national government of displaying a "fundamental lack of trust" in the people of South Africa who have by and large been adhering to the lockdown rules.
Placing a ban on tobacco and alcohol sales, he said, does not make economic sense and opens up a huge incentive for black market trade, causing Government to forgo millions in revenue that could be used for services and infrastructure. "South Africa is the only country in which a tobacco and alcohol ban remains in a slightly alleviated level of lockdown."
He also questioned the rationale behind the 20:00 to 05:00 curfew and the three-hour daily limit on exercise (between 06:00 and 09:00), saying that government is treating citizens like children instead of adults. "Some people have to work during that time and from a health perspective this is less safe, as people will all be out at the same time."
Of the curfew he said it seems as if "some people are indulging in their fantasies of an authoritarian state" and there seems to be "a move to central planning on a grand scale of the economy". They would be taking Government to court to challenge the curfew.
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