Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, John Steenhuisen, has called for an easing of COVID-19 restrictions on the tourism sector and international travelers
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa is also appealing for government to remove the PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers who intend on entering the country.
The National Coronavirus Command Council is expected to meet this week to review the current COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Steenhuisen says the sector needs to be revived.
“Particularly around tourism, it was once one of Africa’s only growing job-creating sectors prior to the onset of COVID-19. Now, requirements for PCR tests are a huge deterrent and an added expense to international tourists looking to come to a place like SA. What we can’t be doing now is putting up barriers for international tourists to come to SA. We need them, we need the money and we need to revive this sector.”
Steenhuisen says he believes several of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions should no longer be enforced. Steenhuisen says mask restrictions could be eased for some age groups, such as learners in schools.
“I don’t think we need to be wearing masks all the time. I think the only time masks should be worn is in high-risk areas such as hospitals or places where there is an opportunity to spread the virus to people who are vulnerable. A large part of the world has already stopped mask wearing and it has shown that it is not as effective as one would like it to be – such as with school children, there is very little efficacy in combatting the virus,”says Steenhuisen.
Video: Professor Salim Abdool Karim on COVID-19 in SA
SA could be Ready to ease restrictions: Prof Karrim
Former head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Salim Abdool Karim says that South Africa could be ready to ease pandemic restrictions further as infection rates have declined.
It has been two years since the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in South Africa.
Karim has, however, warned that we may not be out of the woods yet, given the nature of the pandemic and its past trends.
He says that the country saw a slight uptick of infections when the omicron variant subsided, which was driven by the BA2 variant, when schools reopened this year, therefore caution is still necessary.
“So, it’s a different version of omicron, but it’s not causing outbreaks. One has to be careful when timing it appropriately, we don’t want to end up with a situation where we take action and then it leads to a new outbreak.
So, I think we can drop most of our restrictions. I would say that we probably need to keep at least three of our restrictions in place. We have to keep some restrictions on large indoor mass gatherings.”