Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open during the 21-day ‘lockdown’, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his national address on Monday (23 March).
These personnel will be exempted from the stay-home provisions as they are vital for continued functioning of these companies during the lockdown, he said.
While a full set of guidelines on these services will be published on Wednesday, minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel further outlined the types of jobs which will likely be covered by the legislation in a press briefing on Tuesday.
The staff mentioned are over and above the sectors already outlined by the president, which included doctors, pharmacies, healthcare workers, petrol stations, and supermarkets.
The essential staff in the following areas are being looked at for inclusion in the gazetted list:
- Those responsible for essential care of the elderly and sick persons, including home-care and old-age homes;
- Essential private security services for the protection of property and persons;
- All essential back-office services to enable salary and human resource departments to work so as to ensure smooth management of wage and salary payments;
- Essential animal welfare and emergency veterinary services;
- Those who assist in transporting food and other essentials to people’s homes including online retail, as well as transport systems that support any of the essential services;
- Key maintenance systems required at workplaces to avoid serious damage to economic assets, where the interruption of that service will destroy critical working areas, factories or machinery;
- Members of Parliament, provincial legislatures, municipal councils and their core staff, as well as government departments and public entities’ staff responsible to assist with implementation of the measures announced by the president, as they will all need to be working to make the country safe;
- Members of the media and broadcasting services, who will serve as a vital communication between government and the public;
- Transportation of fuel, food and basic goods supply trucks between SADC countries.
“Businesses which remain in operation during the ‘lockdown’ will be required to do so with all the staff required to ensure that the service or production is uninterrupted,” Patel said.
“Businesses will also be required to take necessary protocols to ensure adequate hygiene and social distancing.
“Consumer-facing businesses, like grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and spaza shops, especially, will be asked to educate their staff and customers on the required protocols and to take reasonable steps to keep social distancing between customers,” he said.
President Ramaphosa ordered a 21-day lockdown with severe restrictions on travel and movement – beginning midnight on Thursday – to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the country.
In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases has increased dramatically in just eight days from 61 cases to 554 cases.
Under the president’s orders – measures included in the lockdown include:
- All South Africans will have to stay at home.
- Exempted: health workers in public and private health sectors; emergency personnel; security services such as police and soldiers; those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods; those working in essential services.
- People will only be able to leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, or seek medical care; or to collect a social grant.
- Shelters for homeless people will be identified, as well as quarantine areas for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
- All businesses will close – only medical facilities pharmacies, laboratories, petrol stations and food stores will remain open;
- Essential transport services will also continue.