Good news – SA could move ‘swiftly’ to level 3 restrictions, parliament told

Trade and industry minister minister Ebrahim Patel said the country does not need to stay at level 4 for a specific number of weeks but can move rapidly to a lower level should risks be mitigated. Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS Image: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

If SA avoided a “sharp increase” in Covid-19 infections, the country could very soon shift to level 3 restrictions.

This is according to parliament’s trade, industry and competition portfolio committee.

The committee – together with the select committee on trade and industry, economic development, small business, tourism, employment and labour – met on Friday.

“Should the country avoid a sharp increase in the levels of infections with the return to work of large numbers of workers and expanded testing and healthcare facilities, the economy could shift to level 3 as soon as possible,” the committee said in a statement.

It said trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel told the committees the country “does not need to stay at level 4 for a specific number of weeks but can move rapidly to a lower level should risks be mitigated”.

“The committees heard the initial return to work will be based on the national level, but will progressively be expanded to provincial and district level, enabling workplaces to adapt to the level of infections and healthcare readiness in localities,” the committee said in a statement.

Ebrahim acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic would impact SA’s economy because many companies closed under the level 5 full lockdown.

“Work is still underway to establish the extent of the impact. We are keen to restart as many economic areas as possible,” he told the committee.

The joint sitting also heard that the Competition Commission has received about 1,000 concerns and complaints. On top of this, about 1,700 complaints were raised with the National Consumer Commission.

Committee chair Duma Nkosi commended the “responsible and decisive manner” in how government was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We know the lives of our people come first, and we will be guided by this principle. At the same time, we recognise the difficulty in the balancing act of keeping our people safe and reopening the economy as these are interlinked,” said Nkosi.

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