It now seems inevitable that the lockdown will get worse before it gets better for South Africa. After losing ground in the vaccine race, the country is also heading into its colder winter months – meaning that a third wave of COVID-19 is as good as unavoidable. Indeed, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) predicts a rollercoaster ride for Mzansi throughout 2021.
Ups, downs, and an end in sight: Forecast lockdown dates for 2021
The financial experts at the highly-renowned multinational have published their ‘expected economic scenarios’ for the year ahead. The group has found a consensus on what it feels are the best and worst-case lockdown forecasts, while also producing a ‘baseline figure’ – which serves as the middle ground.
Their research indicates what a route out of lockdown may look like for SA. However, nobody should expect us to take a linear path to Level 1 and beyond: PWC say a backward step is needed ‘to mitigate a resurgence of the virus‘:
“Despite the roll-out of a vaccine programme, medical experts agree that the pace of vaccinations will not enable us to avoid the third wave. The severity of this mid-year wave, and the accompanying strictness of associated lockdowns, will directly determine the nature of our economic recovery.”
Leaving lockdown – three possible scenarios for South Africa
What is the best-case scenario?
The economic analysts have published this table, to help us visualise how the remainder of the year could play out. On the ‘upside’, it is forecast that all lockdown restrictions could be removed by October, and only a slight shift to Level 3 regulations would be needed to counter the third wave. However, there’s also a predicted ‘downside’…
What is the worst-case scenario?
If the worst happens and cases slide out of control early doors, any move to Level 2 in March could be abruptly halted, ushering in four-to-five months of ‘harsher lockdown restrictions’ – including a brief return to the dreaded Level 5 scenario.
“The upside scenario sees a less strict lockdown during winter 2021 — due to vaccination successes — and also a complete lockdown exit at the start of the fourth quarter. In turn, the downside scenario assumes a more severe infection level during the third wave and no exit from the lockdown until 2022.”
Lockdown forecast for SA: Things looking ‘much better’ from September
The ‘baseline’ predictions also pitch a tough slog through winter, without having to face the extremes of Level 5. Much like the downside, it also shows that restrictions will remain in place until 2022. From September onwards, none of the outlooks say that South Africa will be operating at anything tougher than Level 1, which is *something* of a silver lining.
“The baseline scenario sees lockdown restrictions ease further in March (to Level 2) followed by a return to the stricter Level 3 in May, to combat the third wave of COVID-19, peaking at Level 4 in July. While a subsequent easing in restrictions is expected as the winter thaws, SA is anticipated to remain in Level 1 lockdown from September towards year-end.”