The government is expected to decide on Wednesday how they will amend the current Level 3 restrictions, after their initial announcement was postponed by one week. Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has addressed the issue, but took a moment to blast some of his fellow Cabinet members.
Level 3 latest – another alcohol ban unlikely
Mthembu laughed off claims that the alcohol ban could be reintroduced in South Africa. Police Minister Bheki Cele has been leading the charge against liquor, linking booze to the rising crime rates in the country. But the more senior government official has pulled rank spectacularly, indirectly labelling Cele as ‘ill-disciplined’. Mthembu told the Sunday Times:
“The decision of cabinet stands. [The alcohol ban] is not up for reviewal … we have not discussed the reviewal of those measures. Not at all.”
“All we have said is let’s have discussions with the experts and see how they look at measures that we have taken so that we are advised. I am a member of the Cabinet. I speak to what Cabinet has agreed … I’m not part of the ill-disciplined crew.”
Level 3 regulations – what is likely to change this week?
Mthembu has also noted the elements which are up further discussion on Wednesday. Level 3 is expected to last a little longer than the previous stages of lockdown, but in a bid to continue unlocking the economy, the government is looking at possible ways to open up several industries while keeping people safe. There may even be some light relief for smokers, too…
- The tobacco ban is up for discussion, according to Mthembu – but reiterated there will be no return for the alcohol ban.
- Sit-in options at restaurants are, quite literally, on the table.
- The opening of hotels and B&Bs is under consideration for the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC)
- The issue of bringing in ‘tighter rules’ for hot-spots, without knocking them down a level, is on the agenda.
- The scientists advising the government will also update officials about how relaxed regulations have impacted health services.
Could the cigarette ban go up in smoke?
The future of cigarette sales continues to be the thorn in the Cabinet’s side. The debate surrounding our smokes has dominated the discourse of lockdown so far, and the Pretoria High Court is set to make a decision on whether the ban can be extended or not this week.
In fact, we could be in a scenario where a verdict is reached before Mthembu and his colleagues meet on Wednesday, taking the decision on cigarettes out of the NCCC’s hands. The hospitality industry, meanwhile, will be hoping that these positive signs end up giving businesses the green-light to ramp up their operations.