Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED

I reached out to President Cyril Ramaphosa a little over a year ago in an open letter, where we welcomed his decision to lock SA down in anticipation of the Covid-19 pandemic to protect the country’s people and prevent unmanageable burdens on the healthcare sector.

We’re now on the other side of the third wave of the pandemic and we now all have the experience and the insights on how to manage our lives and livelihoods going forward.  Along with government’s excellent vaccination programme, it’s time to encourage all businesses to open up fully and get back to work, just as we were before March 2020.

For the sake of the economy SA needs everyone back in the office, so that all the supply chains that support city centres, hospitality locations, and every other part of the economy, can all get back to work, get back to earning their full income, and also get back to spending it.

While the country’s GDP grew by 1.2% in the second quarter of this year, we need it to grow more if we’re to address our challenges of unemployment and inequality. We’re only going to be able to do that if we open the country up, remove lockdown conditions, and actively encourage everyone over the age of 18 to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

What’s more, we’re only going to be able to open up and return to “normal” operations if we have some certainty, including that our operating hours and conditions are not going to be changed from one day to the next, and certainty that our clients are not going to have to change plans at the drop of a hat, or the institution of a lockdown.

That’s why we are appealing to the president to not institute any more lockdowns. The only way the hospitality sector can return to employing 1.5-million people and contributing R450bn to the country’s economy is if we have the certainty that he is not going to change our operating conditions overnight.

With so many vaccination sites now available and demand for vaccines below supply availability, I believe that though it is unlikely that we will prevent a fourth wave of infection, the government needs to commit to protecting livelihoods over those of the unvaccinated population who are not seeking protection.

If the president and every business leader encourages every person in SA to be vaccinated before November, every person who lives, loves and works in SA will be able to contribute to — and benefit from — our economy returning to pre-Covid levels, and growing even more beyond that.

We — and the whole hospitality industry — now need Ramaphosa to open up the economy and permanently remove restrictions and curfews, so that we can get people travelling, working and earning again.

Marc Wachsberger
MD, Capital Hotels & Apartments

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