The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) has reiterated to the public the health implications that could occur as a result of smoking. This after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lift on the ban of the sale of cigarettes – once the national coronavirus alert level is lowered from 5 to 4 on the 1st of May.

The tobacco lobby group, FITA, previously argued against the ban on the sale of cigarettes, saying the lockdown regulations were not explicit on tobacco trading.

NCAS Executive Director, Savera Kalideen, has described the lowering of the alert level as a relaxation of the lockdown regulations.

“The lockdown is being relaxed on the basis of levels and if you look at all of the relations that are going to come into operation from 1 May, there is a whole range of them including that all retail stores are being able to sell all the products that they normally sell. What we are seeing is a relaxation of the lockdown regulations from level 5 to level 4. So what we would want to remind South Africans of is the harm from tobacco. They know 8 out of 10 South Africans do not smoke and they are fully aware of the health harm from the product.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the sale of cigarettes will be allowed as well as an extension of the list of essential goods that can be bought.

However, entertainment venues including bars and shebeens will remain closed.

“The sale of cigarettes will be permitted. The range of goods that may be sold will be extended to incorporate certain additional categories.”

“Conference and convention centres, entertainment venues, cinemas, theatres and concerts will remain closed,” adds the President.

Below is a risk-adjusted strategy for economic activity document:

Political parties welcome Ramaphosa’s announcement of gradual easing of nationwide lockdown

Political parties have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a gradual easing of the nationwide lockdown in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Addressing the nation on Thursday, Ramaphosa said that on May 1, 2020 the country will enter alert level four of the lockdown, which means some activities will be allowed with extreme caution.

The video below is the President’s full address:

Most of the political parties have expressed their support of the move by government to phase in the lifting of the nationwide lockdown to reopen some sectors of the economy.

The DA’s interim leader John Steenhuisen says that any phased lifting of lockdown restrictions should be accompanied by massive testing, tracing, tracking and publishing of reliable data

“This is precisely what we’ve been calling for in our smart lockdown plan released 10 days ago. It’s encouraging to be able to see how we’ve [been] able to cooperate with government in this way and to know we are on the same page in facing this daunting challenge.“

”We will obviously wait for the details but it’s also critical that phased lifting of the lockdown is accompanied by a massive increase in testing, tracing and tracking and that the publishing of this data is prioritised.”

“This is important because South Africans need to know where we are in terms of the various phases and it informs how we transition between those phases.”

Meanwhile, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says this move will resuscitate the economy: “The UDM welcomes the country’s road map back to normality. This balancing act will no doubt lead to resuscitation of our economy so that we don’t become the country of consumers, let us go back and do this in an orderly fashion.”

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) expressed its satisfaction with the maintained closure of borders.

ATM NEC Member Sibusiso Mncwabe explains: “We welcome the fact that our borders will continue to be closed because we know as a country that we’ve got porous borders, we are happy that they will continue to be closed down up until we are able to defeat this pandemic.”

”We’ll be expecting as the President has said that the ministers give us a clear picture as to what will happen going forward but we agree that we can’t be reckless in dealing with the phasing out of this lockdown, we therefore accept what the President has said.”