President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the current 21-day lockdown with an additional 2 more weeks.
The President said there were 1,934 cases of Covid-19 in South Africa on Thursday and the lockdown had slowed down the rate of increase, which he said “does represent real progress”.
Ramaphosa said that if government ended the lockdown too soon, the progress gained would be lost. He called on South Africans to be willing to endure another 14 days.
The president said the coronavirus crisis had worsened over the past two weeks, particularly worldwide, with health systems “overwhelmed”.
He said the decision to institute the lockdown had been “correct and timely” and “there is sufficient evidence to show that the lockdown is working”.
“The president’s address follows a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council held yesterday, 8 April 2020 and consultations that the president would have held during the course of the day with various social partners during the course of the day.”
He called on the country to make an even greater sacrifice to save thousands of lives, though he acknowledged the harm that was happening in the economy.
Relief package for Retail Tenants
Meanwhile, South Africa’s retail landlords announced an industry-wide assistance and relief package on Tuesday for retail tenants hardest hit by the Covid-19 lockdown.
The relief package was revealed by a newly-formed alliance of retail property landlords in the country, known as the Property Industry Group.
The initiative, which focuses on supporting affected SMMEs, also provides assistance to all other retail tenants, and will be rolled out by landlords nationally.
During the week of March 23, the major representative bodies for real estate in South Africa – SA REIT Association (SA REIT), SA Property Owners Association (SAPOA) and SA Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) – formed a collective, the Property Industry Group, which has been coordinating its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically the economic effects of the 21-day lockdown.
The commercial property sector makes a significant contribution to the economy, tax revenue and employment. It is responsible for more than 300 000 jobs directly and indirectly in other sectors such as security, cleaning, hygiene and technical services, and building and construction.
To qualify for the relief benefits, retail tenants would need to undertake not to retrench staff during the relief period.
Significantly, the package stipulates all tenants whose accounts were in good standing at February 29, 2020, could be assured that there would not be any evictions for the next two months.