Premier Alan Winde says he has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to look at how people can face consequences for not wearing face masks in public. Winde spoke earlier during his weekly digicon and said the province would place much more focus on law enforcement this festive season, especially as many parts of the Western Cape is experiencing an established resurgence in Covid-19.
Read the full plan below:
The Western Cape Government’s three-pronged-approach to roll-back the COVID-19 resurgence in the Western Cape:
- A continuation of our world-class health response to ensure that every person gets care when they need it, with innovative interventions to save lives.
- Behaviour change to prevent new infections, by working with individuals, communities and businesses to adopt protective measures. And,
- Increased enforcement of existing level 1 regulations that will ensure the compliance needed by all stakeholders to contain the virus.
Together these three pillars are the best way to roll-back the resurgence, while keeping our economy as open as possible. This is how we intend to save both lives and livelihoods.
Our health response will include:
- Increased surveillance of COVID-19 outbreaks, through testing of cases in hotspot areas, contact-tracing, daily huddles to understand reasons for spread, and expert analysis of data and trends. Our Surveillance Strategy requires quick intervention to fight new outbreaks when they occur.
- The scaling up our health platform’s capacity to manage the increased burden on our hospitals, with key trigger points for the addition of new intermediate, acute and critical care capacity so that we always have enough beds available.
- Ensuring a core level of essential services in the health system, and starting preparations for a careful, planned reduction in comprehensive health services in hotspots to ensure adequate capacity for a potential surge of cases.
- Obtaining sufficient Personal Protective Equipment to protect all frontline staff at all times and ensuring the mental wellbeing of our healthcare workers.
- Using technology to track COVID-19 infections in high-risk individuals, such as those with Diabetics, to reduce the number of deaths.
Our behaviour change response includes:
- The launch of a festive season COVID-19 safety campaign using a variety of media channels, to encourage the adherence to the 3Cs and golden rules.
- The distribution of community level trends of COVID-19 infections to encourage personal responsibility in different geographic areas.
- The formulation of detailed guidelines on gatherings that can assist residents in making safer choices over the next month.
Our all-of-government enforcement response includes:
- Coordination of enforcement activities through the Joint Operations Centre, and the creation of a joint operations grid.
- The launch of a single complaints line for all COVID-19 related complaints, with a direct link through to the JOC.
- A continuation of our comprehensive hotspot strategy, with reports from hotspot leads to cabinet weekly.
- Requesting additional policing resources from SAPS to assist with compliance.
- The organisation of regular engagements with Business, Labour, Faith Based Organisations and Civil Society to ensure COVID-19 compliance and strong cooperation during the festive season.
In line with this three-pronged approach, our government departments will work together to prevent new infections of COVID-19.
- Our Department of Transport and Public Works (T&PW) will, through its festive season road safety campaign, assist with awareness and enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, especially for long distance transport during December.
- The Western Cape has created a dedicated USSD code to report non-compliance on public transport, and a campaign to boost awareness of this number during the month of December will take place.
- T&PW will also continue to make available safe and comfortable Quarantine and Isolation facilities for those residents that are unable to safely isolate at home.
- Our Department of Social Development is working closely with both funded and unfunded old age homes around introducing stricter protocols so that these residents have increased protection.
- The WCED already has extensive COVID-19 protocols in place for schools across the province, including for the examinations taking place right now, and these protocols will continue to be strictly adhered to. Schools were asked this week to review their safety measures and ensure that they are in line with the Guidelines issued to them.
- The WCED has also asked principals to communicate to staff and learners the consequences of irresponsible and unnecessary behaviour in the context of COVID-19 and to encourage them to avoid crowds and non-essential gatherings.
- The WCED will further communicate with schools regarding safe and responsible behaviour during the holiday period. We are very aware that many Grade 12 learners understandably wish to celebrate the end of their examinations. This must be done in a responsible manner to ensure their safety.
- Our Department of Agriculture will work with stakeholders in the agricultural economy to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are adhered to on farms and in rural communities and will undertake oversight visits to oversee compliance.
- Our Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) has a dedicated complaints line for businesses that are not adhering to protocols, and they will work with the private sector to ensure safety of consumers and employees. There has already been a noticeable increase in the number of complaints received, and a more collaborative approach is being implemented across government and industry to respond to the increased workload.
- DEDAT will also undertake regular engagements with sectors of the economy where risk of spread is highest to ensure compliance with protocols, as was done with the retail sector ahead of Black Friday. They have already had extensive engagements with the tourism industry.
- Our Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport will work together with the museums, libraries, sporting federations and cultural organisations under its jurisdiction, to ensure COVID-19 protocols are maintained and smart measures to slow the spread at facilities are introduced.
- The Western Cape Liquor Authority, of which the Department of Community Safety is the main custodian, will continue enforcement investigations in areas including COVID-19 hotspots and work with SAPS to take appropriate action against establishments breaking the law.
- The Department of Community Safety is working with its Neighbourhood Watches and Chrysalis Academy graduates, who are deployed within COVID-19 hotspots to promote positive behavioural change at places of gathering including malls and transport interchanges to ensure residents continue to wash and sanitise their hands and wear masks.
- The Department has also received R20 million towards the implementation of the safety ambassador programme. The new recruits will not only operate in schools and municipalities, they will also work in their communities. As we are experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, safety ambassadors will further assist their communities in complying with COVID-19 safety protocols and regulations.
All of these interventions will be done in line with our zero-tolerance approach to corruption, and our Provincial Treasury will continue to publish monthly Procurement Disclosure Reports so every cent can be accounted for.
Level 1 regulations need to be enforced
There have been extensive media reports in the last 24 hours about potential plans by the National Government to re-introduce alcohol restrictions and move the curfew earlier.
The Western Cape Government would not be in support of such interventions. They would be a double blow to our struggling hospitality sector, which employs tens of thousands of people in this province.
Instead, we need to work with these establishments to ensure compliance and where it doesn’t happen ensure there is proper enforcement with real consequences.
I do, however, believe that the current requirement allowing 250 people to gather indoors is very high given that we know that COVID-19 spreads easier in crowded and closed spaces with poor ventilation. Any limitation on the number of people who can gather in an indoor space must be based on thorough scientific evidence and advice to ensure it will be impactful.
As mentioned above, the Western Cape believes in localised, targeted approaches to outbreaks and that adopting province or country wide measures for a problem in one geographic would have many negative consequences for South Africa’s recovery.
Importantly, the Western Cape Government is also of the firm view that the imposition of restrictions on any geographic area of the province by National Government cannot happen without first undertaking thorough consultation on the exact measures that are to be introduced.
Lastly, the Western Cape will continue to welcome tourists to our province, where you can get that ‘far away feeling’ right here in South Africa. We however ask that visitors be part of the solution, and work with us to follow the rules that will keep themselves and others safe, as you would do anywhere else in South Africa and the world right now. You need to organise your holiday differently, by avoiding crowded places, confined spaces and unnecessary gatherings. Fortunately, we are blessed with an abundance of open spaces where there is plenty of fresh air to enjoy. We will also launch a dedicated tourism safety campaign to create awareness of the safety precautions required of visitors to our province.
The power is in your hands and on your face. Take action now, wear your mask, avoid the 3Cs and help save lives and livelihoods
The next 30 days are going to be critical for the Western Cape and the containment of our resurgence. I know we are all very tired, and we all want this chapter in our lives to end. I want it to end too.
There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and 2021 is going to be a better year. So, we really need to finish 2020 strong, with our healthcare system and our economy working.
We simply can’t do this without your help.
So please remember the power is in your hands, and indeed, in the masks that you wear on your face, covering your mouth and nose.
We must also ‘protect our airspace’ as the as the virus spreads in droplets which travel in the air. We can do this by avoiding the 3Cs of crowded places, confined spaces and close contact.
Let’s rise to the December Challenge.
Let’s roll-back this resurgence and flatten the curve this month.
And let’s keep the Western Cape moving forward.