Without the safety net of a R800 billion emergency relief package, which was recklessly squandered during the first phases of the Covid-19 lockdown, South Africa is left facing an extremely difficult situation on the threshold of 2021 brought about by the failure to properly enforce and police health and safety measures.
The stricter Level 3 restrictions that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced tonight will deliver a severe blow to the economy with certain industries, such as tourism and hospitality, that will be hardest hit.
Many of the new regulations, like the specifics regarding travel within the country's borders, are still unclear and subject to the decisions of the relevant minister.
In addition, there are various other uncertainties as well, like why the lockdown level was adjusted to Level 3 and not Level 2. This has opened the door for the possible closure of certain industries and sectors of which the details are yet to be announced.
The details of these regulations will first have to be communicated before clarity can be obtained about what the President's announcement of the new lockdown level really entails.
The country simply cannot afford any more damage to the economy and further job losses. With the present fiscal position, there is no possibility of a new emergency fund to relieve the impact of the stricter restrictions.
It is true that the rapid spread of the virus must be curbed at all costs, but it must be taken into account that the one million Covid-19 cases put forward as motivation for the stricter restrictions are cumulative.
At present, the recovery rate in the country is approximately 80% and the curve of the second wave of Covid-19 infections has started to flatten after Christmas Day – this must be taken into account as well.