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The DA wants SA to implement a 'smart lockdown'. Here's how it would work

Daily News logo Daily News 2020-04-13
John Steenhuisen wearing a suit and tie: Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. Photo:ANA © Provided by Independent Media Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. Photo:ANA

Durban - As South Africans entered day 18 of a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and with the economy taking a beating amid the lockdown, the DA said it had come up with a smart lockdown plan - that would work similar to loadshedding -  that saved lives and livelihoods.

DA leader, John Steenhuisen said the party's Policy Unit has been working tirelessly with healthcare and financial experts, policy specialists, and its shadow cabinet to devise a sustainable and flexible Smart Lockdown to supplement government’s coronavirus response effort.

They planned to submit the Smart Lockdown working paper which can been updated and amended to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday. 

"Managing Covid-19 will require a marathon, not a sprint.  Realistically, South Africa may have to contain the coronavirus right up until a vaccine is widely available in 18-24 months’ time.  We must hope for a shorter period but plan pragmatically for a long one. In addition to this, South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus hit.  Under a hard lockdown we are heading toward an economic depression," Steenhuisen said.

He said it was going to be very hard to fund an adequate health response over that time period, while also bridging poor households and small businesses to the other side. 

"Therefore, we need to contain this virus over the coming year and beyond in such a way that as many of us as possible can get back to work...We believe that it is a false choice to distinguish between a loss of lives and a loss of livelihoods.  Given that economically active citizens pay for our food, hospitals, and doctors, an economic collapse as the result of a continued hard lockdown will also equate to a loss of life. South Africa needs a strategy to balance the containment of Covid-19 and the containment of the economic fallout as a result of the lockdown, addressing the twin threat to South African lives: the spread of infection and grinding economic recession," Steenhuisen said.

He said South Africa needed a phased and flexible approach to ease the lockdown while ensuring that the country contain the spread of the coronavirus as  Covid-19 will not simply disappear once the lockdown is lifted.

"South Africa cannot afford a hard lockdown. The economic repercussions of a hard and extended lockdown will be disastrous for the South African economy, and thousands of taxpaying citizens will emerge from it unemployed as a result. Furthermore, South Africa does not have the fiscal space necessary to accommodate the severe assault a hard lockdown will unleash on our economy," Steenhuisen said.

How will the Smart Lockdown work?

The DA’s Smart Lockdown functions similarly to a load shedding grid or the different stages of water restrictions previously seen during the Western Cape drought.

In addition to the introduction of the Smart Lockdown, the DA Covid-19 strategy for managing lives and livelihoods includes:

  • Moving between lockdown stages (different specified stages of economic and social activity) in response to what the data is telling us e.g. about new daily infections and hospital capacity.
  • Massive rollout of testing, tracking, tracing, and treatment coupled with transparent reporting of data.
  • Massive build of healthcare capacity coupled with transparent reporting of progress data.
  • Enabling and strict enforcement of the wearing of protective face masks in all public areas.
  • The roll out of a comprehensive public education campaign: hygiene, diagnosis, handling. This includes health protocols for public spaces and workplaces;
  • Assistance to the high-risk group to continue isolating where possible.
  • Strict border control.
  • Bold economic stimulus/relief package
  • Sweeping reforms in government and to our economy

The Smart Lockdown is comprised of four stages:

Red: Stage 4 (hard lockdown)

Orange: Stage 3 (soft lockdown)

Yellow: Stage 2 (soft open)

Green: Stage 1 (open)

The DA believes by implementing the Smart Lockdown, South Africa can not only continue to contain the coronavirus outbreak, but ensure the revival of our ailing economy. 

"We need to remember that the South African context is unique, and that a tailored approach to contain the virus is necessary to protect us against not only the threat of the coronavirus to our lives, but the threat of contingency measures to contain the virus on our livelihoods.  Through our Smart Lockdown, we believe that we can protect both lives and livelihoods, ensuring that South Africa defeats the coronavirus and emerges from the outbreak with a capable and competitive economy which will sustain and create jobs, and ultimately pay for the provision of health care services at the scale required to defeat the coronavirus," Steenhuisen said.

Follow the Health Department’s latest updates on the Coronavirus (Covid-19), including the NICD’s prevention methods. Travellers from Covid-19 affected areas are advised to stay at home for up to 14 days. If you develop any symptoms contact your doctor or clinic, they will advise your next steps. For more information visit the National Institute for Communicable Diseases website or call 0800 029 999. Alternatively send HI to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp. 

South Africa in lockdown (Supplied by MSN) 

WATCH: Animal lovers move into shelter for South African lockdown (AFP)

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