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Moving to Level 2: Is this the end of the beginning?

Stage2

Source: Stephen Grootes, Daily Maverick, 17 August 2020, photo credit: Romania-Insider.com

The move to a Level 2 lockdown allows SA’s battered economy to start humming again and furnishes the possibility of slowing the flood of job losses. Hopefully, it marks the end of the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as the virus will probably remain with us for many years. Still, there is much to be done, and no indications yet that any economic reforms will happen.

The decision to switch to lockdown Level 2 and drop the bans on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products was widely expected. All the signs were there and the unions had gone public in their demands for the change, fearing even greater job losses. Gauteng Premier David Makhura had said earlier in the week that his province was ready to move to the next level.

But the most important statements came from doctors and scientists. It would be impossible, they said, to defend the destruction of the economy while the number of new cases being reported every night was dropping so quickly. And while there will be some who claim there was a “grand conspiracy” to lower the number of tests being conducted, doctors were quick to point out that fewer tests were being done because fewer people were presenting with coronavirus symptoms.

Either way, to keep the country on lockdown Level 3 with fewer than 3,000 new daily cases being announced was always going to be unsustainable.

Pressure was also building up from other corners.
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