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Reconsider some lockdown bans, or risk a backlash of non-compliance

The DA has welcomed certain aspects of the Amended Lockdown Regulations, but urges government to reconsider certain regulations that do not explicitly help citizens combat the virus.

Whilst we support the lockdown, we need regulations that make life easier for citizens, and especially essential workers, to access goods and services and to reduce the risk of mass hunger.

The lockdown will only work if it promotes collaboration amongst citizens. Certain regulations do not,” said John Steenhuizen, the leader of the Democratic Alliance.

“”The decision to start opening up some sectors of our economy to allow workers back to work, under strictly controlled conditions, is the right one and in line with our suggestion of a move towards a Smart Lockdown.

We welcome the announcement that oil refineries, mines and artisanal trades, among others, have been given the green light to start working again,” added Steenhuizen.

But the publication of these amended regulations was also an opportunity for government to rethink some of the overly draconian measures that have been in place these past three weeks, and replace them with some common sense rules.

It was a missed opportunity and the danger is now that we risk squandering the initial goodwill and support for lockdown compliance.

Some of the regulations around essential goods and services, as well as the blanket ban on cigarettes and alcohol, seem to have less to do with combating the spread of the virus than with stamping down the authority of the state.

The same can be said for the ban on neighbourhood watches. The longer these prohibitions remain part of the lockdown regulations, the bigger the chance of a widespread public backlash.

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Already we are seeing an increased public resistance to some aspects of the lockdown, and incidents of looting have become more widespread over the past week.

This will only increase as frustration mounts, and as the economic reality – and hunger – sets in for millions who already live in poverty.

South Africans are also increasingly turning to illicit sources of alcohol and cigarettes, and this is costing the state millions in lost tax revenue – money we can ill afford to lose now.

What started out three weeks ago as a movement with massive public buy-in now looks increasingly fragile and fraught with danger of social unrest.

If President Ramaphosa and his Cabinet don’t act soon in relaxing some of these prohibitions, he is going to lose the rational centre that has kept this lockdown intact and functioning until now.

Once a backlash of non-compliance gains momentum, it will be near impossible to reverse.

 

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