Business for South Africa (B4SA) has called on government to move fast and restrict access to public indoor areas that are not required for emergency use (such as hospitals, grocery stores and certain Government services) to vaccinated South Africans only.
B4SA is an alliance of business people who work with the government, and other social partners, to mobilise corporate resources and capacity to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
B4SA’s call came after a new Covid-19 variant, which the World Health Organisation named Omicron, was identified on Thursday.
“We need to rapidly move to a situation where only vaccinated individuals should be allowed to travel in buses, taxis and airplanes, or to eat and drink in indoor establishments such as restaurants and taverns,” Martin Kingston, chair of B4SA.
"This is in line with global restrictions and based on the science regarding airborne disease. Ventilation and masks remain important, but we now need to look at enforcing a further layer of protection.”
Recently, investment group PSG Group CEO Piet Mouton urged shopping centres, airports, businesses and education institutions to limit access to unvaccinated South Africans.
B4SA also called on employers to enforce restricted access to vaccinated individuals and implementing vaccine mandates wherever possible.
The body is also calling for lower limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings to be reintroduced.
“The global scientific community is in the process of determining the transmissibility of the new variant, and scientists’ initial view is that our current vaccines remain highly effective against death and severe illness,” says Kingston.
“In short, vaccinations remain our best weapon against Covid-19. The country has sufficient vaccines available, and it is imperative that as many people as possible get vaccinated as soon as possible so as to not overburden the health system and to minimise lockdown restrictions."
“South Africa cannot afford more personal or economic pain,” says Kingston. “We have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our communities, and to safeguard both lives and livelihoods.”