South Africa is nearly five months into the nationwide lockdown. The City of Cape Town is now calling on government to end the lockdown to prevent further devastation.

In a statement, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos argues that unfettered travel between provinces must be allowed and the ban on alcohol and cigarettes must be lifted. This must be done to support struggling businesses across the country.

“Over the last few weeks I have engaged extensively through site visits, webinars, calls and emails with stakeholders across the spectrum in the tourism and related industries. From these engagements, it is clear that we must act now to end the devastating lockdown before it is too late,” says Vos.

“COVID-19 infection rates have started to decline. In the Western Cape, we have passed the height of the infection rate as predicted by health experts and national government. Media reports indicate that the efficacy of the lockdown has now expired. It is time to end the lockdown so that we can provide a lifeline for the remaining tourism businesses, now and not later.”

Vos argues that various industries in the province such as food, beverages and hospitality are heavily reliant on domestic tourism, especially business travel between the country’s economic hubs, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

According to Statistics SA, the tourism sector contributed R18,1-billion to the economy and supported over 113 000 jobs in 2018. Between March 2018 and February 2019, travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg was the eleventh busiest domestic route in the world, with almost 34 000 flights, according to Aviation Analytics company, OAG.

Vos says the City is working on a strategy to support the struggling tourism sector.

“Together with the City of Cape Town’s official Destination Marketing and Management Organisation, Cape Town Tourism, we have developed a bounce back strategy for the tourism sector. However, this requires the reopening of inter-provincial travel at the very least,” he says.

“I am confident that by reopening travel between provinces for both business and leisure, on the strict condition of the implementation of the necessary health and safety measures, we will be able to breathe life back into these vital sectors.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation soon, although a date and time has not yet been announced.

Also read: Possible move to Level 2 lockdown for SA this week

Picture: Facebook / James Vos

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