NAMPO Covid restrictions constrict business

16 May 2022 - NAMPO, billed as “the biggest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere”, started this morning under Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Department of Health.

 

NAMPO, billed as “the biggest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere”, started this morning under Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Department of Health.

These restrictions require all attendees to wear masks indoors at all times, and to provide proof of vaccination upon entry or else to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken since Friday, 13 May. Rapid antigen tests are available near the NAMPO entrance for R150.

Said Gabriel Crouse, IRR head of campaigns: “The Covid-19 restrictions are not just an inconvenience, they depress attendance at NAMPO, perhaps by as much as 75%. This is the most important event in the agricultural calendar, but rather than boost business the government’s restrictions are raining on the parade.”

Reduced foot traffic is expected to have the harshest effect on small businesses and non-profits that depend on mass attendance, which typically approaches 20 000 per day.

NAMPO mainstay exhibitors have nevertheless expressed enthusiasm about the fair’s reopening after a two-year hiatus. Thousands of attendees have come through on the first morning, many to do deals that will define the next cycle of harvests.

Unfortunately, the vaccine pass system imposed on NAMPO by the government contradicts international best practice. When advanced countries like Germany imposed a vaccine pass regime (currently there is no requirement) they accepted evidence of recovery from Covid-19 in lieu of vaccination. The South African government does not recognize convalescence in its vaccine regime.

Wits Dean of Health Sciences Shabir Madhi observed that if regulations had worked well over the last two years “we wouldn’t have had 9 out of 10 South Africans being infected with the virus at least once”. The government’s refusal to acknowledge convalescence is alarming in light of this previous failure.

Furthermore, the international trend of post-pandemic liberalisation continues apace outside South Africa. The Danish government ended its vaccine campaign completely yesterday. The IRR tracked over 30 countries, including Namibia and Kenya, that impose no mask or vaccine requirements for events like NAMPO. These countries emphasize the need to grow jobs practically.

The agriculture sector achieved 7% growth in jobs from 2020 into 2021, by far the highest of any sector in South Africa in a period in which 1.9 million jobs were lost. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that outside of events like NAMPO the agricultural sector is usually beyond the reach of unsound Covid-19 regulators.

 

Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za

Chris Hattingh, IRR Deputy Head of Campaigns – 083 600 8688; chris@irr.org.za

 

Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

 

 

 

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