Soon after the first case of coronavirus was declared in South Africa, the government declared a national state of disaster in order to combat the scourge through restrictions, lockdowns, and interventions among others. These restrictions after nearly all businesses in the country, particularly the tourism sector where South Africa is rated second in the whole of the continent. 750 days after it was first introduced, the national state of disaster is now set to end as South Africa sets about the work of economic recovery. President Cyril Ramaphosa insists it is now time to get back to work to fix the economy, contrary to a number of other observers who believe it is too early as the rate of infection is still high compared to other countries. The focus of the midweek episode of Business Edge is on South Africa’s post-COVIS recovery in light of the termination of its national state of disaster. Lekan Onabanjo speaks with Rosemary Anderson, Chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa who joins in from Scotland.
As the pandemic spread across the world and shut down countries, it was imperative that the South African government took major steps to curtail it when it arrived there. Even at that, the country was the most hit on the African continent in terms of infection rate and casualty. While the restrictions have been removed, certain protocols still remain in place that impact the tourism industry. “We still have quite a bit [regulations] in place. What we need is the removal of all restrictions,” Rosemary Anderson says, adding that venues still have to maintain a 50% occupancy rate for events and restaurants. Despite the government’s best intention, this is not financially viable for businesses in that field to restart at pre-pandemic levels. For a country that relies heavily on tourism and hospitality, the situation remains volatile for its post-economic recovery.
The conversation also includes options that the government could have taken, what the end of the state of disaster could do for businesses, as well as what the near future holds.
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