While many in the tourism and hospitality have expressed relief at the move from Level 4 national lockdown to Level 3, there have been renewed calls for government to stick to its promises and accelerate the vaccine roll-out.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement last night (July 25) that government would, in the coming weeks, substantially increase the rate of vaccination.
“We are increasing the number of vaccination sites and improving the vaccination registration system. We will also increase our vaccination capacity on weekends,” he said, while announcing that people between the ages of 18 and 34 will be allowed to be vaccinated from September 1.
“We have maintained that the only way to move beyond the pandemic and the national lockdown is to greatly expand the vaccination roll-out,” said Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato.
National chair of FEDHASA, Rosemary Anderson, agreed, noting that over 15 months of regulations had brought the hospitality sector to its knees with very little financial relief or prospects of recovery.
“For the sector to have any hope of getting back on its feet, it needs consistency and the rapid roll-out of vaccinations,” she said
“The hospitality sector supports the President’s call for South Africans not to be complacent as the third wave surge declines. Along with a robust drive amongst South Africans to get vaccinated, this is crucial if we are to keep our businesses open and attempt to rebuild and restore the thousands of jobs that have been lost.”
Rosemary said an accelerated vaccination roll-out would not only help stop a potential fourth wave in its tracks but that it was also a key consideration amongst inbound international travellers who want to travel.
“While our main international source markets have been vaccinated, we have somewhat lagged in this space. Until we reach the point where adults in South Africa are vaccinated in substantial numbers, our sector will continue to be impacted by surges and low demand from our international customers,” she pointed out.
“We call on South Africans to roll up their sleeves and get their #jab4tourism so that we can begin to rebuild and create the many thousands of jobs that hospitality and tourism are capable of doing, if we just provide the favourable travel conditions for our international guests within which to visit our magnificent country,” urged Rosemary.
The President highlighted that South Africa’s vaccination campaign had made huge strides over the past few weeks.
“We are now administering more than 240 000 vaccines every weekday.
A month ago, this figure stood at around 100 000 vaccines per weekday,” he highlighted.
“As a result, we have now administered more than 6,3 million vaccines, with over 10% of our population having received a vaccine dose. This has been possible through close collaboration between government and the private sector and with the active support of other social partners.”
The President said this substantial increase was made possible by improvements in the supply of vaccines.
“Within the next two to three months, we are scheduled to receive around 31 million additional doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. This supply pipeline means that there will be sufficient vaccine doses available for the rest of the year,” he said.