Focus on safely reopening the economy: trade and industry director-general

PARLIAMENT – The department of trade and industry was focusing on safely reopening industry and repairing the damage the shutdown did to the economy, director-general Lionel October said on Friday.

“The lockdown has achieved its objectives, it has flattened the curve, it has bought us five, six weeks of time for us to prepare for this, and all the provinces have put in place active measures to be able to deal with the increase in the infection rate,” October told Parliament’s portfolio committee on trade and industry.

“Of course it has had a devastating impact on the economy and our job now remains to ensure that we have a proper easing of the lockdown, move to level 3, move to level 2 and in that period all the health and safety measures are in place,” he said.

He said the department was acutely mindful of warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) to nations that a rushed return to full economic activity could see a second wave of infections of the novel coronavirus.

October also stressed that though the government believed the lockdown was successful in lowering the rate of transmission, South Africa would not escape the full impact of the virus that has claimed more than 332,000 lives globally.