Calls for end to Covid-19 curfew before New Year's Eve

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  • Calls are mounting for the lifting of curfew before New Year's Eve.
  • A hospitality industry lobby group has started a petition to end curfew.
  • DA leader John Steenhuisen supports calls for an end to curfew.

Calls are mounting for the government to end the Covid-19 curfew before New Year's Eve.

The Hospitality Leadership group, a nationwide interest group for the hospitality industry, has started a petition urging the president to end the curfew.

The country is currently on adjusted Level 1 lockdown, and curfew runs from 00:00 to 04:00.

READ | Covid-19: 3 782 new infections and 15 deaths recorded in South Africa

According to the group, the curfew "infringes on [the] basic rights enshrined in the Constitution", and the government's response to Covid-19 has led to "enormous economic devastation".

"We should be sending a message to the world that South Africa is very much open for business and visitors. We need, at this stage, not just a passive signal, but an active one. Ending the curfew is the message we so desperately need, and New Year's Eve is the perfect time to do so," the group said in its petition.

According to the group, the curfew is "impossible to justify in terms of the science of preventing the spread of the virus" and is "only serving to keep law-abiding [citizens] at home".

The petition stated:

Celebrating New Year's Eve 2021 under curfew rule would invite unequal use of power by the police. The pictures of random arrests as regular citizens celebrate outside their homes should ring all your alarm bells and would send the opposite message our tourism industry now needs.

Also adding his voice to calls for curfew to end before New Year's Eve is DA leader John Steenhuisen.

He argued that lower Covid-19 hospitalisation rates and the effectiveness of vaccines in the fourth wave should be considered reasons for relaxing the curfew.

"The real crisis now is the state of the economy and widespread suffering from loss of livelihoods," he said.

"Ending the curfew is an easy and logical way to boost the economy, particularly the restaurant and events [industries], which are major employers and have taken huge strain and made immense sacrifices during the pandemic."

He said lifting the curfew would provide a morale boost for the nation.

"Are the police going to arrest people celebrating New Year's Eve? Law enforcement should be focused on preventing drunk driving and real criminality, not curfew, so that law-abiding people can safely usher in the New Year," he said.

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