End lockdown and ‘place trust in the public to continue to be responsible’, Cape Town mayor tells Ramaphosa

01 October 2021 - 13:31
Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the lockdown. File photo.
Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the lockdown. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the lockdown.

Ramaphosa moved SA to adjusted alert level 1 of the Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday, with the curfew now starting at midnight and ending at 4am.

“Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres will need to close by 11pm to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew,” said Ramaphosa.

“The maximum number of people permitted to gather indoors will increase from 250 to 750, and the maximum number of people permitted to gather outdoors will increase from 500 to 2,000. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used.”

Religious services, political events and social gatherings, as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places had to adhere to the regulations, he said.

“The maximum number of people permitted at a funeral will increase from 50 to 100. As before, night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed. The sale of alcohol – for both off-site and on-site consumption – will be permitted, according to normal licence provisions. However, no alcohol may be sold after 11pm.”

Plato welcomed the move but said “with more than 500 days of lockdown, it is time to end the state of disaster and the continuing damaging impacts of the national lockdown on the economy and livelihoods”.

“We note the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa to move the country to adjusted alert level 1,” said Plato.

“The City of Cape Town adds its voice to calls by the Western Cape government to end the lockdown entirely and place trust in the public to continue to be responsible.

“After more than 18 months businesses can simply no longer endure this back-and-forth of changing lockdown levels. They experienced severe strain with reduced income and job losses trying to adapt and survive in these very challenging circumstances.

“As we approach the summer and peak tourism season, we need to give the economy the best chance at recovery.”

Plato added: “We support the call made earlier this month by the Western Cape provincial government for a differentiated approach based on each province’s healthcare system.

“The Cape Town metro and Western Cape government are capable of adopting a more nuanced approach to balance an appropriate health response, but also help the economy recover quicker.”

Premier Alan Winde said he had raised the issue during the president’s co-ordinating council meeting on Thursday.

“I made clear to President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Western Cape government does not support the extension of the national state of disaster and that it must come to an end,” said Winde.

“This is an extreme tool that cannot be used indefinitely, especially if we are to rapidly grow our economy, create millions of jobs and recover.”

Winde said he remained “concerned that no clear announcement was made by the president on when the national state of disaster will end”.

“There is no doubt that the move to alert level 1 will provide a welcome boost for our economy, especially our tourism and hospitality sector, but we must now look beyond this centralised approach and put in place the localised response systems that will enable our economy to recover quickly.

“As we continue to move forward and reopen our economy, I encourage residents to play their part and get vaccinated.”

Ramaphosa said SA has administered more than 17-million vaccine doses.

“Over 8.6-million people are fully vaccinated, which is more than one-fifth of the adult population,” he said.

“Significantly, 60% of South Africans over the age of 60, and 50% of people between the ages of 50 and 59 have now received at least one vaccine dose. These numbers give us confidence and hope.”

Ramaphosa said he had spoken to the UK about its decision to retain SA on its Covid-19 travel red list.

“The UK imposed a travel ban on South Africans by red-listing our country. This has put us in a disadvantaged position, since the UK is SA’s biggest source of tourism from the northern hemisphere and a significant trading partner.

“While UK scientists were concerned about the presence of the Beta variant in South Africa, the reality is that the Delta variant is now by far the dominant variant in the country. 

“Earlier today I had a call with the British prime minister Boris Johnson to discuss this matter. I put South Africa’s case to him, which he understood very well. We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science and are hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days.”

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