Virus chickens begin to roost

Humewood seascape

Well the official word is out, our National State of Disaster continues for another month, it was confirmed today. Yup, that’s right, lockdown (or what is left of it) continues until at least mid-November. I’m pretty sure that by now you both don’t care and that is has little impact on your daily routine, but it hasn’t gone away.

We still get daily news about the virus, the infection rate, the health risks and the dangers associated with ignoring the regulations, but largely people have reverted back to their norms and it has become a minor daily inconvenience rather than the overwhelming burden it was originally.

There is no change in the health impact, it still affects us as it did and the risk of serious illness or death remains. There is a far more significant impact that is slowly taking hold – and I think now people are finally starting to realise it. Unlike the health implications, this is going to be with us for no insignificant amount of time.

Back in April the South African government announced ministers would take a three month cut in salary of 33%. Today I found out that government employees are facing a 10% salary reduction and no bonuses for at least the next five years. I don’t yet know how far this goes, but I know that at least some of them are affected from their next salary payment date.

So workers’ wages are being cut, I wait to hear that government ministers will find themselves with similar, if not more severe, cuts and that this will then echo throughout government service and not just affect the lower echelons. I’m not sure any government would be stupid enough to try and be selective in this way.

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality earlier this year announced cost increases to metro residents of near enough six percent across the board, well above inflation – how the salary cuts in government and the widespread job losses will factor into their thinking in 2021 I can only guess at. The repercussions from this pandemic and the measures taken to prevent the spread are going to have an incredible impact.

I’ve been to several public facilities recently, they are deathly quiet. Where locals don’t have to spend money is where you find the crowds, where money must be spent the echoes are obvious.

The tourism industry already faces a summer season that will have significantly lower numbers of international tourists, very likely they will be offering deep discounts to attract as many as possible but discounts don’t pay bills and keep staff in wages. The same for the entertainment industry, fewer people with money is fewer people availing themselves of available entertainments.

The road is going to be rocky, very rocky, before there is potential for an upswing. Those three-month payment breaks and “holidays” offered when the lockdown started are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what people are going to need to stay afloat in financial terms. Be cautious people, make prudent buying decisions!

On a final note, for my car and technology-enthusiast friends, here’s a video you might enjoy. This is a car designed and constructed using artificial intelligence. The process, and the methods by which things are done, are extremely interesting.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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