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Political parties give mixed reviews on updated regulations

23 March 2022 - 06:00 By TIMESLIVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday announced changes to the Covid-19 regulations.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday announced changes to the Covid-19 regulations.

While the IFP welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Tuesday announcement of a further relaxation of the adjusted lockdown level 1 restrictions, the DA said these were too little, too late and called for the regulations to be scrapped completely.

Ramaphosa announced that sports stadiums would soon be open to spectators who are vaccinated or could produce recent negative Covid-19 tests. He also announced that the wearing of masks outdoors would no longer be mandatory. Funerals would also be opened to more people — with the number being increased from 100  to 200 attendees. It was the same for events — as these were venues were now allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their capacity — provided patrons produced Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “We are clearly at the tail-end of the national lockdown and are now in a transitional period which will require each of us to put our own resolve to the test and find a way to successfully navigate the ‘new normal’.

“We are pleased to hear that all the proposed changes are based on both the advice of scientists and experts, as well as the experiences of other countries that have lifted all restrictions. It is also reassuring that the president consulted widely, from religious leaders to sporting bodies, to our traditional leaders when planning for this new phase in SA’s management of the pandemic,” he added.

But the DA was not in complete agreement.

“The changes to the state of disaster regulations do not go far enough, and continue to hold the country back from a full recovery.  Despite some welcome changes, the persisting rules will harm jobs and increase poverty while providing no benefit at all,” said DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube.

Gwarube said while they welcomed the scrapping of the outdoor mask-wearing requirement and the announcement  that vaccinated travellers will not need a negative PCR test to enter the country, these were coming a little too late.

“Unfortunately, the changes have come too late for the summer tourism season.  The retention of existing limits of 1,000 and 2,000 people at indoor and outdoor events will continue to strangle the events industry.  These number limits are completely arbitrary and are probably exceeded daily at many of our malls or markets.,” Gwarube added.

“The concession for venues with vaccinated or PCR-negative people to go to half capacity is not enough; full capacity without any PCR or vaccine requirement should be allowed. 

“The rules make no sense as the country struggles with record-breaking joblessness, poverty and rising food prices — but no Covid-19 pressure on our hospitals,” said Gwarube. 

Meanwhile, the IFP said it would make its voice heard on the new draft health regulations.

“ We will be studying the draft health regulations, and call on the public at large to do the same. We will further be submitting detailed comments before the April 16 deadline,” Hlengwa said.

This as Ramaphosa stressed that the pandemic was not over and that the country simply needed to adjust to a new way of living.

There are other less well-known rules which ministers have been empowered to make, such as those limiting family visit to prisons to two non-contact visits a month.  This is an ongoing cruelty
DA spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube.

“We ask that our fellow South Africans to continue to respect the few remaining restrictions — such as the wearing of masks in indoor spaces and on public transport, as well as the new 200-person limit on funerals, and the reduced social distancing limit of one metre,” said Hlengwa.

The DA, however, said implementing social distancing at schools and workplaces continued to hamper productivity. Gwarube said the government was also neglecting other members of society — such as prisoners — who continued to be affected negatively by the restrictions.

“There are other less well-known rules which ministers have been empowered to make, such as those limiting family visit to prisons to two non-contact visits a month.  This is an ongoing cruelty,” she said.

The DA said the only part of the Covid-19 lockdown implications that it supported was the social relief distress grant, saying it had been necessary because of the harm caused by the lockdown rules.

“The DA will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that every last restriction in terms of the state of disaster is overturned — and to fight any attempt to make these permanent via regulations in the National Health Act or elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the GOOD party said it believed Ramaphosa's address was a step in the right direction. 

“Covid-19 is a virus that will be with us for a long time to come but our level of vaccination, level of immunity and the strengthening of our healthcare systems means that it is a virus we can now live with,” said the party's Brett Heron.

“The key message is that those who are vaccinated will be able to enjoy some advantages including inbound international travel and attending indoor and outdoor events. We welcome the progress that we are making towards the lifting of the state of disaster and to returning closer to life as we knew it pre-Covid,” said Heron. 

He praised government for following science and medical advice.

“This resolute approach, in the face of expertise of political, armchair and social media critics, has brought us to the point where we can relax our restrictions further and start to rebuild our economy. We encourage all those who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated without hesitation,” Heron added. 


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