I urge President Ramaphosa to provide clarity on lockdown levels 3, 2 and 1 and to give South Africans a better idea of when we can expect to move down to level 2 and then 1.
There is a growing sense that the lockdown levels exist to give the illusion of control and of something being done, rather than to actually enhance public safety and wellbeing in a time of heightened risk and uncertainty.
There is currently a great deal of uncertainty around what is and is not permitted in level 3. This has been exacerbated by speculation that further changes to level 3 are being considered. Levels 2 and 1 appear to exist in name only, as the public has zero information on what they entail.
The impression given by the NCCC is that they are as much in the dark about this as is the rest of South Africa.
Clarity around the nature and timing of lockdown levels will greatly assist businesses, organisations and families to plan for the future. Thousands of businesses and employees in the tourism, leisure and personal care sectors need to make existential decisions with far-reaching implications for millions of lives. Surviving in a pandemic is hard enough without the additional challenge of an uncertain, inconsistent and often incoherent policy environment.
Policy clarity will also enhance public safety by improving compliance with regulations. The current complexity and uncertainty of the covid policy environment compromises not just planning but compliance and law enforcement too.
Better still would be for government to abandon this lockdown altogether, and to rather provide a reasonable, sensible set of safety regulations, all of which should be directly related to reducing transmission of the virus.
This would improve compliance and enforcement. It would enable people and businesses to plan ahead and it would greatly enhance their decision-making. It would also free people to pursue economic and leisure activities safely.
Government could then focus on its own vital role, which is:
- To provide a social safety net to struggling households and businesses.
- To build sanitation, healthcare and testing capacity.
- To educate people about the risks of covid and provide as much information as possible, to assist people and businesses to make better decisions.
- To enforce compliance.
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