With a current Covid-19 recovery rate of 75.9%, and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)’s hopeful analysis that the epidemic peaked by the end of July, rumours of the country moving to lockdown level 2 have begun in earnest.
Level 2 would see much-needed economic activities resuming, notably within the tourism sectors and the retail industry.
Although less constricting, life under level 2 will still have its limitations. Being able to visit family members may still be prohibited, and the entertainment industry may have to remain virtual, for now. Citizens should consider holding off on compiling travel bucket lists, as the issue of international air travel may not be tackled under level 2.
Here is what we can expect under lockdown level 2:
- A resumption of all agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing and related services;
- All manufacturing sectors scaled up towards 100% employment;
- Construction and related services being able to resume for private residential projects;
- All wholesale and retail trade resuming, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders;
- Permitting all real estate activities;
- Allowing interprovincial travel;
- All private household employment being permitted; and
- All repair workers, including plumbers, electricians, locksmiths and mechanics, being able to resume their business activities.
Resuming all retail activities points to the possibility of lifting the current ban on alcohol and tobacco sales.
South African Breweries has been unable to operate at full capacity for 12 weeks, which has cost R3.3 billion in sales revenue, and 117 000 jobs. Ab-InBev has already scrapped a R2.5 billion investment in the country, and is currently reviewing a planned R2.5 billion investment for 2021.
Allowing for interprovincial travel gives accommodation facilities a glimmer of hope that luxury travel may once again resume, and boost the ailing tourism sector. However, the Covid-19 risk-adjusted strategy does not stipulate allowing any accommodation facilities to operate under level 2 except for business.
The Tourism Business Council said in June that over 40 000 jobs had already been lost due to lockdown. The tourism industry contributes 8.7% of South Africa’s exports, and employs more than 375 000 people.
South Africans should receive more clarity as there is a general expectation that President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation this week.