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Stricter lockdown rules not on cards for Gauteng - provincial govt

The provincial executive committee met over the weekend but spokesperson Thabo Masebe said that it did not discuss the prospect of Gauteng moving back to a hard lockdown.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Picture: @GautengProvince/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng government said that stricter lockdown rules were not on the cards for the province.

The provincial executive committee met over the weekend but spokesperson Thabo Masebe said that it did not discuss the prospect of Gauteng moving back to a hard lockdown.

“We did not even discuss a hard lockdown. What we discussed as the provincial government is that we fully appreciate and support the strategy that is being implemented, the risk-adjusted and we also understand that under level 3 lockdown, we should allow the economy to reopen.”

Gauteng is fast approaching the Western Cape, which currently has the highest number of infections. Gauteng is currently the province with the highest number of active cases and over the last week, the province has been recording an almost daily record when it came to the number of new infections.

Picture: EWN

The Gauteng government said the prospect of a hard lockdown for the province was not discussed during the provincial executive committee meeting over the weekend.

Last week, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said that they were considering taking the province back to level four or five lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

But as the provincial government contemplates its next move, there are calls for the economy to be opened further, especially when it comes to the sale of cigarettes.

The ban on the sale of cigarettes has been met with anger from many South Africans, with government losing billions in revenue a loss it can ill afford.

And while government is losing money, so are retailers with an estimated 11 million smokers and vapers affected.

An open letter in the Sunday Times saw a number of chains including Spar, Sasta, JJ Cale and tobacco producers appealing to government to open up sales.

They said that an estimated R3.5 billion had been lost, which could have built two new hospitals or 54 new schools among other projects.

But weekend reports also quoted Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku calling for a harder lockdown.

There has been no indication on whether this has been approved by the national government or whether this will affect business.

But regardless, two major legal initiatives are set to continue and cigarette companies said that they were not backing down.

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