Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has gazetted the extension of the national State of Disaster on Covid-19 until 15 November.
This follows consultations with relevant stakeholders and approval by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet, Cogta spokesperson Lungi Mtshali said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The extension takes into account the need to continue observing all non-pharmaceutical interventions against Covid and increasing vaccinations as part of contingency measures being undertaken to mitigate against its impact,” Mtshali said.
The extension of the State of Disaster, which was enacted in March last year at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, comes amid growing calls from several quarters of society for government to lift the lockdown to allow all sectors of the economy to operate.
At the end of September, Ramaphosa moved the country to the less-restrictive adjusted level 1 lockdown ahead of the 1 November municipal elections.
However, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and his party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), believe lockdowns are harmful to the country’s economic growth and have called for a differentiated approach at the provincial level to respond to the pandemic.
Government has not given an indication of when the State of Disaster will end, with Dlamini-Zuma’s department on Wednesday saying it remained “committed to saving lives and ensuring that more people get vaccinated as it is the only way that we can safely open the economy and go back to our normal lives”.
Vaccinations on election day?
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) has made a recommendation to government to consider offering vaccinations at voting stations on election day.
This comes amid fears that the dreaded fourth wave of the pandemic could hit South Africa after the elections, given the number of people allowed to gather under level 1 lockdown. Up to 2,000 people are permitted inside outdoor venues and 750 for indoor gatherings.
The MAC, late last in September, advised government to ramp up the country’s vaccination programme ahead of the municipal elections, with millions of eligible voters expected to cast their ballots.
“Efforts to encourage vaccine uptake in the period leading to elections should be increased. Consideration should be given to identifying vaccination opportunities, such as offering vaccinations at voting stations,” the committee said.