Imposing harsher Covid-19 lockdown regulations over the Easter weekend will have devastating consequences for the Western Cape’s private sector, particularly the tourism business. Should this happen a tsunami of permanent business closures is inevitable.
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic struck more than a year ago, the private sector has struggled to maintain staff and sales levels. Those that survived have been paragons among those adhering to the safety protocols.
They have tested their staff, sent as many as possible home for the duration, on half pay for as long as they could, and made sure that their premises were not hotspots of contagion. They have navigated the rough waters of government aid with patience and diligence.
Such businesses have proved their commitment to public safety, the health of their staff, and have remained in business, paying their VAT taxes, and collecting PAYE for the Treasury. To make them now abide by heavier restrictions because Easter is a time for massive public gatherings in other provinces is not only short-sighted but grossly unfair, and will cause needless further economic damage and job losses in the Western Cape.
No one in the business community denies the need to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols, but the authorities now have sufficient knowledge of the spread of the disease to know that the existing protocols work in most cases, especially in shops and supermarkets and other businesses where the management has proved it has disciplined employees and can correctly supervise social-distancing.
One size regulatory action does not fit all provinces. Any targets for harsher actions should be more carefully chosen.