DA leader, John Steenhuisen said that while the easing of restrictions was welcomed, “the only possible reason for any further restrictions would be to allow everyone over the age of 18 the chance to get vaccinated”.
Steenhuisen has stated that he believes an end date for restrictions “must be well within our sight” since the 18-35 age group have had access to vaccines since August.
“At the very latest, this should happen by mid-November, which would give this age cohort a full 12 weeks to get both jabs. This deadline needs to be announced so businesses affected by lockdown restrictions can plan accordingly. It is not something that can be decided and announced at the last minute as this would put more businesses and jobs in jeopardy. If business owners know there will be no more restrictions and curfews they can try to make plans to bridge their business until then,” said Steenhuisen.
He said if the president did not think restrictions should be dropped, he must provide reasons why.
“South Africans have made extraordinary sacrifices r to comply with restrictions and regulations that are seldom explained or justified. The president needs to take citizens into his confidence and let them know precisely why these sacrifices must continue. Specifically, he must set out the criteria his cabinet requires to be met for the state of disaster to be lifted so everyone can know whether these are rational and fair decisions. I asked him this very question, whether there are specific conditions which must be satisfied before the state of disaster can be lifted and, if so, what they are, on August 17 in a written parliamentary question and I am yet to receive his reply. That is not good enough, particularly when government’s decisions around lockdowns and economic restrictions already have so little credibility. It is also not good enough for the president to say ‘as soon as everyone has been vaccinated’ when speaking of our return to normality as we will never get to a point where everyone has had the jab.”
Steenhuisen believes that until all restrictions are, “finally lifted, it is crucial that we start applying a regional model for these restrictions based on the healthcare capacity of the region. Infection trends and vaccination rates differ greatly across different parts of the country and there is no single neat wave that applies to the entire country, or even entire provinces. Coupled with this, some areas have sufficient hospital capacity to no longer warrant restrictions. It is extremely selfish to subject South Africans to more unnecessary economic hardship when the local conditions do not justify this.”
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