President’s co-ordinating council agrees to gradual easing of lockdown
The president’s co-ordinating council on Saturday agreed to the gradual easing of regulations after the lockdown period in an effort to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the virtual meeting that brought together ministers, premiers, mayors and local government leaders to assess government’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“The PCC today agreed on the need for a risk-adjusted approach to the resumption of economic activity at the completion of the lockdown period,” a statement from the presidency read.
This means there would be a gradual easing of regulations after the lockdown at the end of the month in various sectors until the economy is operating at full capacity once again.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said government will be guided by available evidence which supports the ongoing containment of the virus.
This comes after local government minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said this week that government will not “open the floodgates” by allowing a wholesale end to the lockdown at the end of the month.
This, government conceded, will further impact an already ailing economy.
“The meeting was unanimous that the impact on the SA economy would depend on the pace and magnitude of the interventions which would be required of all social partners,” Diko said.
The PCC meeting agreed that government must put measures in place “to ensure that more cash is put in the hands of households to induce economic activity in the medium term”.
She said this includes the need to fast track the implementation of identified structural reforms — without detailing what this would be.
“Government must also develop an economic recovery plan for municipalities which are expected to bear the brunt of the economic, political and social fallouts from Covid-19 as engines of our national economy and the coalface of delivery.”
Cabinet was expected to come up with an economic plan on Wednesday but that was deferred to a meeting on Monday after consensus could not be reached.
“The meeting further made inputs for Cabinet’s consideration when it meets on Monday, 20 April 2020, relating to the need for an economic reconstruction plan which appreciates the huge damage that Covid-19 would have wrought on the SA economy,” Diko said.
“Since the lockdown, over 100,000 households across the country have been provided with food parcels, with further households being targeted through the Solidarity Fund and department of social development’s Disaster Relief Fund. The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has also set aside over R400m for social relief of distress through food parcels and vouchers to be rolled out on a larger scale. The PCC agreed that these efforts needed to be significantly expanded as a matter of urgency. PCC further emphasised the need for social distress efforts to be dispensed in a manner that upholds the dignity of all beneficiaries,” Diko said.
The top tier of government also agreed to ramp up water provision across the country.
On Friday, there were 50 deaths linked to Covid-19 with 2,783 confirmed cases.