As the country hurtles towards a fourth wave, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to get vaccinated. In his weekly letter addressing the public, the president highlighted the importance of vaccination in reducing the chances of the country experiencing harsher lockdowns.
“Vaccination is essential for our economic recovery, because as more people are vaccinated more areas of economic activity will be opened up. We can do our work and socialise under less stringent restrictions, and our lives can return to some degree of normality,” he said.
Businesses have felt the effects of harsh lockdowns. According to BeyondCovid ”COVID-19 has decimated the South African economy, leading to massive job losses. Small businesses continue to bear the brunt of business closures; a catastrophic turn of events considering that small businesses provide over 70% of employment in South Africa”.
Ordinary South Africans are also feeling the effects of ongoing lockdowns. Unemployment has skyrocketed to an all-time high of 34.4%. The effects of income loss are expected to have long-term effects.
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“The pandemic may not only have short-term income effects but also hamper people’s income-generating activities in the longer term, as households will turn to liquidating their small savings and selling off productive assets to cope during the lockdown period,” reports Borgan Magazine
Following the detection of the Omicron variant in November, Ramaphosa announced that the National Comand Coronavirus Command Council had decided to keep the country on Level 1 lockdown. However, things could soon change as the country enters the festive season. In his letter on Monday, the president hinted at more stringent lockdowns in the upcoming weeks.
“We will soon be convening a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic. This will enable us to take whatever further measures are needed to keep people safe and healthy,” he explained.
Ending his letter, Ramaphosa assured citizens of the safety of the vaccinations.