So it’s official. The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that South Africa will move to level 2 at midnight on Monday – so effectively Tuesday. This is fantastic news though most will argue too little too late. As someone who has lost a relative to covid19 and currently has a parent hospitalized because of covod19, I do have mixed feelings.
Personally it’s hard to feel too enthusiastic about the change in to level 2, especially since international travel remains closed. As a tour guide that relies on international travelers, I still am unable to earn an income and from what I’ve read of the news worldwide, that wont change for probably a year still.
What You Can Now Do Under Level 2
For most South Africans, I think the two most important changes right now is the fact you can purchase both cigarettes and alcohol. For one friend I know, the change is literally a day too late – they purchase a carton of cigarettes on the black market for a considerable sum of money just one day ago! Which makes me think the black market suppliers must be pretty annoyed (lol).
There are quite a few other changes;
- Inter-provincial travel is now permitted for any reason.
- Restaurants, bars and taverns can operate as usual but with the restrictions on patron numbers still enforced.
- The selling of cigarettes (legally) is permitted.
- The sale of alcohol is again permitted, but only Monday to Thursday (9am to 5pm).
- Fitness centers can reopen albeit with strict protocols in place.
- Areas such as beaches, parks and reserves are once again open to the public.
Not changed is;
- International travel remains closed.
- Curfew from 10pm to 4am remains in place.
- Limits on gatherings remain in place (max 50 people).
Warning: Personal Opinion Ahead
How much of a difference would have moving to Level-2 some two or three weeks made?
Well for starters, the tens of millions (some suggest billions) earned by the country by way of taxes on alcohol and cigarettes would have made a significant impact on treating covid19. Think about the opportunity lost, where government could have used those taxes to bolster the public healthcare system which currently is under-resourced, under-funded and quite honestly teetering on disaster.
Fact is many people who smoke were diagnosed with covid19; I haven’t yet seen stats that breakdown the difference in deaths between non-smokers and smokers, I suspect there’s not a great deal of difference. And of course consider that smokers did not quit during the last few months, they simply bought no-name brand cigarettes on the black market.
As for alcohol, sure, there is an argument to made that people are idiots sometimes, one drink leads to two drinks to three drinks and finally to hell with social distancing, masks and all that. Of course the increase in emergency cases related to drinking alcohol did increase, but again, to such a degree that the government could afford to just throw away millions in taxes?
Personally I think there were far better ways to handle all of this. Of course, I’m not the head of government with difficult choices to be made.
Anyways, lets hope it all goes better from here on in. Oh and to all my tourism brothers and sisters , vasbyt, it’ll all end at some point.
Stay safe and sane y’all.
PS…..I’m no expert on Covid19 and related issues. it’s best to seek out professional sources of information such as the WHO and the official South African governmental website. Don’t be sheep, take the time to read up and don’t believe everything to see on the internet. That is all.