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Why South Africa must move to level 2 now

Business for SA (B4SA) has stated that quickly moving South Africa to a level 2 lockdown will save over one million jobs, while still allowing people to keep safe and follow COVID-19 health protocols.

A Sunday Times report on B4SA’s statement said the group is in constant talks with the government on allowing people to go back to work.

The group further stated that companies and employees can take responsibility for “implementing stringent health and safety controls” when returning to their places of work.

The current lockdown approach, which has been at level 5 and level 4, “is economically impractical and hard to regulate”, it said.

“This could have dire socioeconomic and health consequences,” stated the report.

Under level 4, many businesses are prevented from opening. As a result, employees are sitting at home without pay – waiting for UIF contributions to help them pay the bills.

The situation is so dire, in fact, that South Africa’s National Treasury predicted more than 7 million jobs could be lost as a result of the virus and lockdown.

South Africa’s economy could contract by as much as 16.1% this year, estimates showed.

Looking at specific sectors, the magazine industry in South Africa has been hit hard.

Caxton recently announced it was withdrawing from magazine publishing and associated businesses, while Associated Media Publishing said it shut its doors on 1 May.

Caxton Magazines publishes 12 prominent magazines – Bona, Country Life, Essentials, Food & Home, Garden & Home, People, Rooi Rose, Vrouekeur, Woman & Home, and Your Family.

AMP published Cosmopolitan, House & Leisure, Good Housekeeping, and Women on Wheels.

Open the economy

B4SA has therefore called for an accelerated easing of the risk-adjusted COVID-19 strategy.

This would “enable a successful return to work while saving lives and livelihoods”, it added – providing the following scenarios:

  • If level 4 continued for a month, the economy would contract 14.5% in 2020.

  • Moving quickly to level 2 will reduce the contraction to 10% and save over one million jobs.

97% of the workforce would be allowed to work under level 2, it added.

The call to allow more businesses to operate has been echoed by CEOs in the country, including those in the ecommerce industry.

Takealot CEO Kim Reid, who said social distancing is built into ecommerce, wants online stores to be allowed to sell their full inventories.

“With a few simple delivery protocols, ecommerce allows for a very hygienic way of shopping,” Reid said.

Currently, there are still restrictions on what people can buy online – with the same limits in place as is the case with physical retailers.

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