The government should show leadership to protect the struggling economy from further damage from the lockdown, following the detection of a new variant of Covid-19 in South Africa and the African region southern.
It was the urgent appeal launched Saturday by associations of the sectors of alcohol, consumption, tourism and leisure.
The poorly managed communication around the emergence of the new variant had already struck a hammer, especially in the tourism sector, which is expected to lose millions of Rand following several flight bans to and from the South Africa, trade associations said.
It was the worst nightmare come true for the tourism and hospitality industry, which desperately needed a successful holiday season to begin its recovery from previous rounds of lockdown restrictions and to replenish reserves to survive the dead- season 2022, they said.
“We share the South African government’s position that international travel restrictions applied to the region are unwarranted. We call on our government not to impose unjustified restrictions on the national economy itself, ”said Kurt Moore, CEO of SALBA.
“It would send a mixed message to the rest of the world, if the South African government adopted a knee-jerk reaction in its management of the national and regional risks posed by this new variant.”
Vinpro CEO Rico Bason said: “The wine sector, which is very much linked to international and domestic tourism, has been strongly affected by the latest developments. With record unemployment and many businesses still far from a temporary recovery, protecting livelihoods is essential to avoid further unnecessary financial hardship. “
“We call on the government not to compound the damage caused by overseas travel restrictions by imposing undue restrictions on the local economy.”
Half of South African restaurants have been destroyed in previous lockdowns
Restaurant Association of SA CEO Wendy Alberts said half of the restaurant business had been wiped out by previous lockdown restrictions and the remaining businesses were hanging by a thread.
“There is panic and chaos in the industry today as restaurateurs try to anticipate the government’s next move and staff fear being sent home with no income. It is absolutely vital that companies are consulted before making decisions with serious business implications along the value chain, ”said Alberts.
“Spring alcohol bans or trade restrictions on small businesses are costing them money in lost inventory and disrupted cash flow that they can hardly afford,” she said.
Gareth Ackerman, co-chair of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), said the industry has called for company representatives to be included in National Coronavirus Command Council discussions so that the economic impact of the proposed lockdown measures can be fully understood.
“The government should honor its promise to consult by involving us in reviewing any decision that will impact various sectors of the economy. Sudden announcements with huge business impacts cause unnecessary financial shocks for businesses and their employees. The government should now have prepared the healthcare system for Wave Four by increasing capacity where needed. Therefore, arbitrary restrictions are unnecessary and will only further harm the already struggling economy, ”he said.
The industry believes any new alcohol lockout restrictions will permanently bolster the illicit alcohol trade, which had flourished under previous bans and already accounted for over 20% of the market.