The news that South Africa is moving to level 1 of lockdown on Monday, 21 September, has been met with mixed feelings from the live events sector.
Sharif Baker, Chairperson of the Technical Production Services Association (TPSA) and spokesperson for #LightSAred, said during an interview on #Newzroom Africa; “Obviously, we are very appreciative of the lifting of the gatherings to accommodate 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors, and obviously we will follow a stringent safety protocol. Unfortunately, however, it will not help or assist the economy in any form whatsoever let alone our own pockets or those of freelancers. A lot of people are excited, yes, because some of the smaller venues will be able to participate in making sure they can look after artists, actors and theatres, but looking at the greater scheme of things, it’s still a long road for us.”
“It will not help or assist the economy in any form whatsoever let alone our own pockets or those of freelancers.”
Kagiso Moima Wa Masimini, owner of rental company Blackmotion and founder of #Flightcasemovement, highlights that the new level 1 regulations still do not allow many businesses to re-open – specifically those that cater for large-scale events. He says, “We are not celebrating the 250 to 500 people because this does not cover the different market segments within our industry. It means that we will continue into unknown months of struggle in the industry because most people will remain unemployed. Companies right now do not have the capacity to reopen and operate based on the different market segments.”
“The well from government is drying up and we want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
The Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA), TPSA and the SA Events Council have been engaging with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture in recent months, and have shared safety protocols which they believe will allow events of up to 1 000 people to be responsibly held.
Bakers adds, “The beauty of the event industry is that we are strictly regulated. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not do an event unless we were compliant with city regulations, permits and approvals. Nothing has changed but what we have done is work very hard with our SA Events Safety Council and put together a plan that directly addresses communicable diseases, specific to COVID-19.”
He concludes, “We want to get back to work, we want to help build the economy, we want to be able to look after ourselves and not go for a handout. The well from government is drying up and we want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”