Critics question Ramaphosa’s plan for lockdown easing

Picture for illustration. A South African Police Service officer gestures on May 13, 2020 at a man pleading for the release of a protester detained for breaching the lockdown regulations as she joined residents of Snake Park in Soweto at a demonstration against the electricity cuts. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

Critics ask how Level 3 lockdown will be implemented if we already know infections will increase.

Opposition parties have attacked President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech as being vague, in particular how Level 3 of the lockdown will be implemented.

The president has said most of the country should be at Level 3 by the end of May. Yet in the densely populated metro’s where most cases of Covid-19 have been detected, and most testing takes place, there are fears the hard lockdown will continue.

It’s worth noting that comprehensive medical facilities are also most capable in metro areas, which is another criterion for lockdown easing.

Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has lashed out at the president’s plan: “Lock them down at the country’s economic demise. Save the nation from possible coronavirus infection, while decimating their economy forever. It clearly appears to me that the economy that is currently in ICU is not a priority in the president’s planet.”

The Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen has also complained about the lack of direction given by the president: “Ramaphosa admitted in his speech that many regulations are irrational, yet did not end them. He continues to play on people’s fears.”

“The virus cannot be eliminated. It will be with us for the near future. A rise and peak in infections is inevitable in the coming months, whether we lockdown or not. Lockdown can delay but not reduce the number of infections.”

Steenhuisen has also said the president’s plans for a smart Level 3 lockdown are quickly losing traction.

“The scope for implementing a smart lockdown (localised containment of ‘hotspots’ identified by smart testing and tracing) is fast diminishing. In fact, the window period for this is virtually closed, except in the Western Cape.”

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