Businesses will need to help make workplaces “resistant” to Covid-19, subject their employees to screening processes, apply healthy distances and arrange safe transportation for workers when a significant portion of the workforce returns to work on May 1 .
This is what happened after Commerce and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel on Saturday expanded at a media conference on how the level 4 restriction will work in terms of the economy and jobs.
“We want to work with businesses to reduce the spread of the viral disease as soon as possible so that we can move to level 3,” says Patel.
He warns that if businesses fail to comply with guidelines issued by the Department of Health next week, and a large number of employees test positive, businesses could be shut down.
“We see the gradual return of workers from certain industries as a test run from which we can learn to make the workplace more resistant to Covid-19,” says Patel.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says the government now seems to want to shift a large part of its responsibility to fight the virus to the private sector.
According to him, the government initially wanted to saddle the horse itself against Covid-19, but now realized that it needed the private sector’s help to fight the pandemic.
“However, the question is whether the government will subsidize businesses for this. Small businesses in particular can struggle to make money and still comply with all the measures, ”says Mathekga.
Patel says the relaxation of the measures means that more than 1.5 million people will return to work gradually from May 1. He emphasizes that workers must return gradually over a period of time, and that businesses must ensure that the workplace complies with guidelines.
People over the age of 60, or people with underlying illnesses, who are more vulnerable to Covid-19, can negotiate with employers to work from home or can claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
Businesses are still encouraged to let their workers work from home where possible.
According to Patel, several factors were taken into account before deciding which sectors of the economy could reopen. This includes the risk of spreading the virus in a given industry, as well as the industry’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), its impact on the economic value chain and the impact on the income of vulnerable people. .
“We need to look at the phases of health through the phased reopening of the economy. Covid-19 certainly hurt the economy, but we as South Africans can help restore the economy by buying locally produced goods, ”says Patel.
Although Patel has released a preliminary list of businesses that can start working in Level 4, further discussions will only take place with business leaders and trade unions before being finalized.
The preliminary list includes the following:
* Agriculture, forestry and fisheries will reopen as a whole, enabling inter alia the transport of livestock and auctions;
* The manufacturing industry will be partially opened so that about 20% of this industry can come into operation;
* Children’s clothing, blankets, computers, cell phones, cars, stationery and cement and building materials will be manufactured;
* Some retailers will also reopen. Additional goods that may be sold are winter goods, writing tools, office supplies and tobacco products.
* The mining industry will be able to gradually increase the number of people coming to work;
* Professional services such as engineering, legal and auditing services will also increase;
* The recycling industry will also come into operation with informal recyclers who can start working again;
* Construction will also be possible for water and sanitation purposes, as well as bridges and road works projects;
* Restaurants and other eateries will be able to deliver food.