SA is currently on Level 3 of the national lockdown which was implemented in April 2020, a total of 454 days. However, as the number of Covid-19 cases increases, specifically in Gauteng, it is rumoured that this level may shortly be raised to Level 4 or even Level 5. At Level 5, first implemented at the start of the pandemic, the restrictions meant most citizens were confined to home, shops restricted the purchase of “non-essential items”, businesses had to close and industry ground to a halt. Such measures will seriously cripple the economy and must be considered an absolute last resort. While much of the world is lifting restrictions due to successful vaccination rollout, SA has been hampered in its rollout by myriad problems including being too late to order vaccines to having to dump doses because of potential contamination. The government does not seem to be able to present a clear and coherent message to the public and, after so many false starts, stalls and back-tracking, citizens are beginning to question how any of the Covid-19 command council rulings have actually helped the situation.
THERE has been a call by the Educators Union of SA to temporarily close schools while the third wave of the pandemic plays out, despite the announcement by education minister Angie Motshekga on Monday that schools would remain open. Motshekga and others are concerned pupils have lost a considerable amount of classroom time, and this should be avoided this year. Lockdown is undesirable for most if not all businesses and institutions but, should Level 5 lockdown regulations come into force, the education system will be devastated. For pupils who can study at home, have access to the internet and can still communicate with their school, this is still an issue and certainly not the preferred way of study. During the previous shutdowns parents had to become educators while working. Yet, to those in more rural settings with no access to the internet, it represents a total disaster. Many families in rural areas may have several children of school-going age who require supervision and assistance with their studies, a d such support is simply not available to them.
MOVING to Level 5 would undoubtedly be another crushing blow to the hospitality and liquor industries. More so, Ndlambe relies heavily on tourism and, given that most social events have been postponed or cancelled over the last 14 months, the entire area is suffering. Without the influx of tourists the area cannot generate funds to sustain itself. Revenue has been lost as events such as the Amanzi Challenge, the Bathurst Agricultural Show and many others have left the area far poorer than in the past. Level 5 restrictions would cripple the local economy even further.
ON to some local news, and last Sunday was the last in the Classic at the Castle series. Impresario Sue Gordon and her team were visibly moved as a video was played before the concert began featuring many local and overseas artists who expressed their gratitude to Gordon for inviting them to perform at Richmond House. The concert itself was with JF Viljoen (piano) and David Bester (violin) and was a fitting end to the series. See the article in this week’s edition.
THE polar plunge, a fundraiser for Port Alfred High School inviting locals to participate in a mid-winter swim, was cancelled again due to Covid precautions. Even if you did not want to swim in the cool Indian Ocean, just being there to celebrate the fact that winter is halfway through is a rush, but we will have to wait for next year’s winter solstice for another opportunity.
FOR the dads among us, did your family do anything special for you on father’s Day last Sunday? Travelling around town in the unseasonably warm weather it seemed that people were anxious to be outdoors enjoying the sun and the company. However, with Level 3 restrictions in place there were far fewer people at our restaurants than would normally be seen.
CONGRATULATIONS and happy birthday greetings to everyone celebrating a special day in the next week, especially Madelaine Murray, Lizzy Gouws, June Keeton, Robert Godfrey, Marsha de Kock, John Champion, Margaret Ilderton, Brenda Pringle, Ann de la Rey, Amber Berry, Harold Holt, Marion Konig, Isabella Coetzee, Liza Kohler, Melville Vogel, Ann Hewett, Peggy Goosen, Mollie Jordaan, Kim Nel, Jean Babin, Stella Crawford, Mirna Myburgh, Tyler-John Lang, Marjorie Wilmot, Lucille Scheepers, Delina van Heerden, Eileen Roussow, Anne Harris, Deirdre Odendaal, Mark Warren.
MAY the following businesses continue to be successful as they celebrate another business anniversary. Best wishes for the future to The Water Bar in Van der Riet Street.
THE threat of another hard lockdown alone has markets nervous and investors hesitant. Together with the electricity crisis, water problems (not to mention our local problem of sewage flowing in our streets) these are definitely discouraging investment in the area. On the international markets, and with last year’s figures in brackets to compare against, the Rand was trading at R14.19 to the Dollar (R17.27), R19.82 to the Pound (R21.49) and R16.95 to the Euro (R18.82). Commodities such as gold were trading at $1,782.03 per fine ounce ($1,757.32); platinum $1,084.00 ($825.55) and Brent crude oil at $74.81 per barrel ($42.98).
WEDDING anniversary congratulations to couples, especially Len and Pat Holford, Johan and Anne Roos, Rodney and Lyneth Gradwell, Terry and Margaret West, Cecil and Dee Jones-Phillipson and Jason and Megan Sharrock.
THOUGHT for the week: “An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for wholeness is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.”
BEST regards as always,