Why South Africa is not ready to open the entertainment Industry, according to a doctor

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Entertainer Zodwa Wabantu during the DStv Mzansi Viewer's Choice Awards.
Entertainer Zodwa Wabantu during the DStv Mzansi Viewer's Choice Awards.
Frennie Shivambu / Gallo images

Sportsmen and women, pub owners, spaza shop owners, wedding venues, musicians. The list of people and industries affected by national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic is endless.

As the country settles firmly in level 2, some of those industries are open and slowly getting back into the swing of things.

But there are still some avenues that haven’t opened, which include festivals and music shows.

This is why some members of the entertainment world took to the streets in Durban recently to demand that President Cyril Ramaphosa reopen the industry. 

They blocked the N3 and staged a small concert as a protest before being forced to disperse by the police.

But not everyone is on board with their demands.

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General health practitioner Dr Noko Tony Moukangwe believes it would be hard to open an industry where mass gatherings are the norm at this point.

“The entertainment industry contributes largely to the economy and it’s also a source of income for many South Africans. The only reason we have been moving down lockdown levels is because the economy is suffering and people need to make a living in order to survive.

“However, we need to keep in mind that in the entertainment industry it will be very difficult to keep the measures provided by the World Health Organization, such as social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks,” Dr Noko tells DRUM.

“With the entertainment industry, there is the issue of unregulated alcohol and the premises of these events will also be unregulated. What is going to happen is that there will be a lot people breaking the law, uncontrollably, and the spaces will be overloaded at a time when we are already having a hard time combating the virus in the hospitals.

“As much as the statistics are low, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that there are a lot of people still occupying the spaces and beds in the hospitals. If the industry opens, there will be an increase in trauma cases in hospitals, especially car accidents caused by drunk driving. We will find ourselves in a situation where we will not be able to accommodate all people in our public health institutions, which are already in dire straits.”

Entertainers say it’s hard to live without an income, as they haven’t been able to work since the end of March.

“If entertainers don’t have a source of income it will be difficult for them to pay their bills and they might encounter conditions of a psychological nature, such as stress, depression and anxiety,” Dr Noko admits.

“But unfortunately, if the industry opens it will be difficult for them to comply with law, so pressuring the president won’t help.

“It will difficult to put any measures into place at events. There are three main measures – social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks. Those measures are already too much for sober people, so what can we expect from people who are intoxicated and who are enjoying their favourite music and drinks?

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“We must be practical about it. The measures are there as a form of reduction, so that the situation does not become uncontrollable. It will be difficult to request people who are in their happy mood to be mindful of the measures.”

There’s been a lot more trauma cases in hospital since level 2, Dr Noko notes.

“We also need to keep in mind that although there is limited time to consume alcohol in public spaces, the curfew has not been something the general population has respected. We are looking at cases that occur in taverns, such as stabbings due to altercations,” he says.

Many South Africans may sympathise with the entertainers, but plenty of others have taken to social media refusing to support the celebs with the #ValaPresident movement. They say these people are not really suffering and there are many others who are worse off.

 

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