The pandemic phase of COVID-19 might not yet be over, but we’ve certainly gone past the 90th minute. Following a largely inconsequential fourth wave of the virus and the mass rollout of vaccines, lockdown restrictions may soon be banished for good – and Cyril Ramaphosa is being urged to make an announcement at SONA 2022.
Will SONA 2022 give us our last family meeting?
Governed by the State of Disaster framework over the past two years, South Africa is emerging from a traumatic battle with coronavirus. Harsh lockdowns, tens of thousands of deaths, and an economic battering have all pushed our nation to the brink. However, there’s now hope that normality is within touching distance.
Leading politicians and medical experts believe that now is the time to do away with ALL lockdown rules. Immunity against the virus is extremely high in Mzansi, and the threat of new variants can still be tempered by our jabs and existing antibodies. With SONA 2022 as his platform, Ramaphosa is being urged to deliver one final ‘family meeting’.
South Africa ‘has a chance’ to end its lockdown laws
Last week, COGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma confirmed she had written to Cabinet members, asking them for their opinions on ending the State of Disaster. Cyril Ramaphosa has been weighing up the decision to remove all legal COVID-19 requirements for weeks, recently claiming the argument to drop restrictions ‘was a good one’.
On 1 February, the legal requirement for asymptomatic isolation was dropped. Schools have also been told to return to normal. Very few pandemic limitations actually remain in place, and Ramaphosa is now under growing pressure to drop rules related to gatherings, sports stadiums, and mask-wearing.
SONA 2022 ‘may be used to end State of Disaster rules’
Hospitality group Fedhasa have become the latest group to pile the pressure on Cyril, arguing that any extension of the State of Disaster laws would have a terrible impact on tourism and visitors from overseas.
“We need to look at where we are now, not where we were two years ago. Hospitality and tourism need certainty. Overseas visitors do not want to visit us if there is a State of Disaster. In the majority of countries now, if you’re vaccinated, you can get in… The PCR test is a huge deterrent at the moment.”
SONA 2022: A chance to end lockdown laws as we know them?
The State of Disaster is set to expire on Tuesday 15 February. The framework is fast running out of road, and with millions planning to tune into SONA 2022 tomorrow, this gives Ramaphosa the perfect platform to make a declaration.
Another extension of those rules, however, is likely to spark a political backlash. Even the DA and EFF are united in their belief that lockdown restrictions have had their day. They now just need Mr. Ramaphosa to follow suit.