COVID-19 Level 3 possible changes for South Africa see smokers like cats on a hot tin roof currently. The Government is set to make changes to the level 3 lockdown this week. There isn’t a smoker in the country who isn’t waiting with bated breath to hear if they can legally buy their brand of choice. Other areas involve tourism and alcohol, but communities really should buy into their own safety.
Alcohol sales stay for now during Level 3
According to several articles over the weekend, alcohol remains available to South Africans. Jackson Mthembu confirmed to the Sunday Times that alcohol sales look set to continue. This comes despite strong objections by the Police Minister, Bheki Cele. Police reported an increase in violence that they insist links to the alcohol ban being lifted.
This may be true to some extent. But, the bottom line is a drinker separated from his alcohol is just as likely to be violent, whether they drink or not, a member of the AA told us on Monday. Could it be possible that the lowered level of lockdown simply offers criminals more opportunity? Either way, the police need to up their game in order to adequately serve and protect their people, many social media critics think.
Possible good news for tourism and restaurants
Easing access to tourism facilities is extremely urgent. By May, estimates showed that over 160,000 people may lose their tourism industry jobs in South Africa. The reopening under strict sanitization rules got tabled for discussion this Wednesday. Tourism employs over 700,000 South Africans and any industry that provides employment needs nurturing by the government.
Whether the industry reopens or not, it remains further hampered by the lack of international tourists. Special offers offered online don’t help much for those reliant on a large portion of the industry targets overseas – dollar rich – clients. As long as the borders remain closed, the tourism industry may have to severely compromise on pricing in order to attract local tourists.
COVID-19 cases are increasing
The COVID-19 case count continues climbing. Any decisions made at Wednesday’s meeting will have to take cognisance of the numbers. Certain areas could return to stricter lockdown levels, although the government tries avoiding that: Possibly because of the logistics involved. COVID-19 is far from over. China sees a second wave of COVID-19 and WHO warns that Europe should expect the same.
The South African economy, stressed before COVID-19 is struggling and every cent spent on illegal cigarettes impacts on South African Revenue Services. South Africa simply can’t afford to keep restricting tax revenue income despite cases being a long way from peaking.
Allow smokers to smoke or not?
The big question thus remains – will Wednesday bring relief to smokers and the taxman? With the courts expected to rule around this debate, the government may have to deal with it sooner rather than later. Undoubtedly, smokers follow the case closely. Nevertheless, on Facebook indications seem that smokers expect the NCCC will try and delay by requesting more time for tobacco deliberation.
Many smokers feel they currently get treated like children. They argue they should be allowed to at least smoke in the privacy of their homes. Nevertheless, the practice of sharing smokes on the streets might still continue, especially, as the prices of illegal cigarettes make them less affordable.
COVID-19 kills – communities should buy into their own health protection
Regardless of the outcome of court cases, COVID-19 is dangerous to high-risk people. That is your neighbour, your aunt, your cashier, your bank teller, your taxi driver, etc. Proactive community education and a willingness to work together represents one avenue to assist with the unnecessary spread of the illness.
At the end of the day, no amount of armed soldiers enforcing rigorous regulations gets community cooperation. Neither can cigarette-sleuthing police force change. In fact, people who work together for the common good usually prevail more effectively. Social media pundits constantly chafe against the micro-management of the people. Can our fellow South Africans prove they are a mature society through responsible behaviour?
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