New proposals for life after lockdown in South Africa

A new document published by the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) shows how South Africa could function post lockdown, from Friday 1 May 2020.

The document outlines a proposal from government to keep a range of restrictions in place as the country-wide lockdown is phased out, and also introduce a five-stage alert system that will determine which businesses can operate, depending on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation on Tuesday (21 April), that cabinet had agreed that South Africa needed to get the economy up and running again, but had to do so cautiously.

“As I have said previously, if we end the coronavirus lockdown to abruptly we face the uncontrollable spread of the disease,” he said. “We will therefore follow a phased approach in reopening the economy.”

He said that government will balance the need to ensure that infections are minimised, with the need to get people back to work.

According to a report on Fin24, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said the document was prepared “as early input into the development of a risk-adjusted approach to resuming economic activity”.

Parts of the document have changed “substantially” and it is still being finalised.

It will be elaborated on by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening.

Document proposals

The proposal document published by SATSA shows how this could work.

“There are serious risks associated with lifting lockdown restrictions too soon, or in an unsystematic and disorderly manner,” the document states.

Restrictions on economic activity need to be adapted to epidemiological trends, and may need to be relaxed and tightened in different periods, it said.

One of the key proposals in an alert system, which would be created with clearly defined levels of restriction that can be imposed by the National Command Council as necessary.

This system would have as many five levels and would allow for flexibility and responsiveness, reducing the need to amend regulations in future.

To determine which sectors should be allowed gradually to resume activity, three criteria would be used:

  1. Risk of transmission (including the ease of implementing mitigation measures)
  2. Expected impact on the sector of continued lockdown (including prior vulnerability)
  3. Value of the sector to the economy (e.g. contribution to GDP, multiplier effects, export earnings)

Based on these factors, government would be able to determine a ‘risk score’ that will give an indication on which sectors would be able to operate at any given level.

Because of high risk of transmission in certain sectors, the document stated that restrictions will have to remain in place for these sectors after the national lockdown – regardless of the level of alert at any given time.

This includes:

  • Sit-in restaurants and hotels;
  • Bars and shebeens;
  • Conference and convention centres;
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, and concerts;
  • Sporting events;
  • Religious, cultural and social gatherings.

There is also a proposal to further restrict gatherings, with no more than 10 people outside of a workplace being permitted.

Regarding public transport, the document says that passengers on all modes of transport must wear a cloth mask to be allowed entry into the vehicle. Hand sanitisers must be made available, and all passengers must sanitise their hands before entering.

Public transport vehicles must be sanitised on a daily basis, it said.

In addition to the above, the following rules would also be imposed across all sectors and alert levels:

  • Industries are encouraged to adopt a work-from-home strategy where possible, and all staff who can work remotely must be allowed to do so.
  • Workers above the age of 60, as well as workers with co-morbidities identified by the Department of Health should be offered a work-from-home option or allowed to remain on leave with full pay.
  • There should be workplace protocols in place that would include disease surveillance and prevention of the spread of infection.
  • All employers to screen staff on a daily basis for symptoms of Covid-19, including a symptom check as well as temperature assessment.
  • All employees to use a cloth mask especially where social distancing is not possible.
  • Work environment to have sanitisers available or hand washing facilities with soap.
  • Stringent social distancing measures should be implemented in the workplace.

Read: Ramaphosa announces R500 billion support package as South Africa gets ready to slowly re-open its economy

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New proposals for life after lockdown in South Africa