The Democratic Alliance has pledged its support for the steps taken by President Cyril Ramaphosa to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. The party says its members are ready to assist wherever they are required.

At a media conference in Parliament, the party also called on the private sector to play its role in trying to alleviate the impact of the disease.

Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen says the party held an extended Shadow Cabinet meeting with the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town. The meeting was convened to combine their expertise in order to protect South Africa from the pandemic. Steenhuisen says the Coronavirus can be defeated.

The party’s spokesperson on Finance Geordin Hill-Lewis has called, among other measures, for a payment holiday for several categories of the economy.

“We propose a nationwide four-month payment holiday on loans. In particular, property loans, business loans and vehicle loans by extending the terms of these loans by four months and allowing borrowers to pause their payment businesses and families will receive an immediate and very significant financial relief. This will help small businesses maintain the cash-flow necessary to stay open and keep paying their employees. It will act as a form of bridging finance through the difficult months ahead.”

Hill-Lewis says small businesses need to be protected against the worst effects of the pandemic. He added that the absence of such protection could have tragic consequences.

The party has also called on parliament to heed the call for reduced interactions by cancelling some of the activities.

Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone says, “As you know parliament is an incredibly high-risk area. MP’s are also high-risk persons given that they travel around the country. I have written to the speaker and Chief Whip of the National Assembly informing that the DA will be present in the sitting tomorrow but in a very reduced capacity.”

The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee for Community Services, Zahid Badroodien says the city has decided to close all its public facilities. He adds that from now on MiCity busses will only carry one passenger per seat.

“At this stage has been made to close all the facilities, which include our pools, our halls, our recreational hubs. All public facilities so that all non-essential social contact is avoided. In terms of public transport, MyCiti busses will now no longer take passengers in excess of 20.”