Media Release by Premier Alan Winde in response to Presidential address
“Government must embrace innovation to save both lives and livelihoods”
- During the President’s Coordinating Council, Premier Winde called for measures to assist businesses in the hospitality sector to become partners in slowing the spread of COVID-19, while being allowed to safely operate.
- Premier Winde therefore welcomes the opening of restaurants to allow a maximum of 50 people to dine indoors. The reopening of TERS UIF has also been welcomed, following the Western Cape Government’s push to reinstate it.
- Premier Winde is calling for further innovation during this time, including allowing the sale of wine online with delivery being permitted.
- The Western Cape is concerned about the prolonged closure of schools, particularly at the Foundation Phase level, and the impact this will have on children. Province is committed to keeping children in the education system.
- Western Cape Government has developed significant vaccination infrastructure and is ready to boost vaccine rollout further. Premier Winde therefore welcomes President Ramaphosa’s announcement on additional supplies having been secured.
From the outset of this pandemic, the Western Cape Government has argued for common-sense interventions, based on sound evidence, to slow the spread of COVID-19, while allowing the economy to operate and for jobs to be saved.
We cannot allow our healthcare system to be overwhelmed and for our residents to suffer the indignity of not having a bed, enough oxygen or a nurse to care for them when they are sick. Similarly, we cannot allow job losses to continue as they are – ruining the lives of tens of thousands of people and, ultimately costing lives too.
Getting this balance right is not easy but remains absolutely essential – and it needs more than blunt measures, and blanket bans. It requires thinking out of the box – innovating in how we respond and working with the private sector to find solutions that can keep businesses open while saving lives.
That is why during the President’s Coordinating Council, I argued in support of measures that would allow businesses in the hospitality sector to become partners in our effort to slow the spread, while continuing to operate. Livelihoods in this sector are just as important as livelihoods in any other, and so this sector should be allowed to safely function, in line with clear guidelines.
I therefore welcome the President’s announcement yesterday evening that restaurants can now open with a maximum of 50 indoors, as an important first step in saving thousands of jobs in this important industry in the Western Cape and South Africa. I am also pleased that UIF TERS support will be extended, as this was something the Western Cape Government pushed hard for too.
I do believe that there are further changes possible in this space, if we embrace innovation and an ‘out of the box’ thinking, and we should work with the industry to find other ways in which operations could be scaled up in a safe, well-distanced and well-ventilated environment.
This innovation is also needed with the responsible sale of alcohol, which is an important revenue stream for hospitality businesses. Innovations such as allowing wine sales on wine farms and at wine cellars, and online wine sales with delivery, could help keep these businesses afloat in a safe fashion over the next 14 days. This is something the Western Cape will continue to lobby for in engagements with our national counterparts.
The recent NIDS CRAM report on the impact of the COVID-19 laid bare the major challenge South Africa faces with education, as children – particularly from poor families – drop out of the system in much higher numbers. This is a devastating consequence of the pandemic, that will impact the lives of many, many people into the future. I am therefore concerned with the impact that prolonged school closures will have, and especially on those in the Foundation Phase. The Western Cape Government’s top priority remains ensuring that every child, no matter where they live, gets the best possible education and that we keep our children in the system until Matriculation.
The Western Cape Government agrees that a rapid scale-up in vaccinations are needed urgently. We have prepared a significant, province-wide vaccine infrastructure that will enable us to do so effective immediately, and we are already able to scale-up to over 120 000 vaccinations from this week. However, we need more supplies in order to do so, and therefore welcome announcements by the President that supplies will begin to increase significantly. I urge every resident to register for their vaccine when it is their turn – vaccines work, and they will help get our province and country moving forward again.
As a next step, we will be preparing further submissions to the national government to effect common-sense changes that we believe will further get the balance right in saving lives and livelihoods. We must be bold and think out of the box, as we work with our residents during this challenging time.
I remind our residents that their behaviour remains an important way to slow the spread of the virus, and to save lives. The Western Cape Government has prepared well-in advance for the third wave, and continues to have enough nurses, beds and oxygen to care for those who fall sick. But we need your help to keep our curve as flat as possible, and to not stretch the system beyond its capacity. So, please remember to wear your mask, to avoid crowded places and unnecessary gatherings, and to protect your family and loved ones. If we all work together in this way, we can flatten the third wave, protect our hospitals, and save lives and jobs.