Easing of Alert Level 3 restrictions welcomed; UIF TERS vital to save businesses
We welcome the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night of the relaxation of the Alert Level 3 Restrictions, which will be a lifeline to many businesses in the Western Cape, especially those in the tourism, hospitality and liquor industries.
Last week we published tourism industry performance data that unsurprisingly reflects a sector that has been hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related lockdown restrictions, and so the change in the curfew to 23:00 – 04:00, the opening of the beaches, parks, swimming pools and other public spaces, and the easing of the alcohol ban will certainly bring some relief to businesses in the Western Cape.
These relaxations are exactly what we have been calling for and the fact that national government has made these changes sooner than 15 February 2021 is a welcome reprieve for businesses in the Western Cape.
But the fact is that there are many businesses that are severely distressed and many jobs that remain at risk as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the markets that these businesses are dependent on, especially as the intensity of the second wave both at home and abroad has resulted in stricter international travel restrictions and route cancellations by airlines.
And so, it is critical that national government consider providing a support package for business and, as I have requested of the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, extend the UIF Covid-19 TERS scheme for the duration of the Alert Level 3 Restrictions to assist businesses and employees who continue to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We know that national government is running out of fiscal firepower, but this financial relief could be targeted to focus in on the most seriously affected businesses, in the most seriously affected sectors like tourism and hospitality so that we can save businesses and save jobs in the Western Cape.
With the relaxation of the Alert Level 3 Restrictions, it remains all our responsibility to continue adhering to the health protocols required to stop the spread of Covid-19, especially in the workplace. For business owners, please do consult the many resources we have on managing Covid-19 in the workplace that are available on our website: https://coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/covid-19-resources-workplace
The Western Cape government has focused on getting the balance right between preventing the spread of Covid-19 while keeping the economy as open as possible, saving both lives and livelihoods.
And, we will continue to work hard to support businesses so that we can save jobs and save the economy in the Western Cape.
Listen to soundbyte from Minister David Maynier:
Spokesperson for the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities
(Responsible for the Provincial Treasury and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism)
Cell: 071 087 5150