Before going back to work after lockdown, these new rules will likely need to be in place

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation on Thursday evening to provide clarity on the lifting of the lockdown, scheduled for the end of April.

It is widely anticipated that the current lockdown will be lifted in phases and that those sectors of the economy that will be permitted to operate, will only be able to do so under strict health and safety requirements.

The government is considering using a system of alert levels to assess whether to gradually ease restrictions after the lockdown ends, Bloomberg reported, pointing to a presentation made to the ANC’s National Working Committee on Monday, and citing a person who attended the meeting.

Alert levels will be determined by the National Command Council, which will follow recommendations from the ministers of health and trade and industry and be based on how quickly the virus is spreading and the health system’s readiness to handle cases, the presentation showed.

Levels may be determined nationally or provincially, Bloomberg said.

Here’s how the alert system could work.

The document proposes retaining restrictions on restaurants, hotels, bars, conference centres, entertainment venues, sporting events and religious and social gatherings after the lockdown, regardless of the alert level.

No gatherings of more than 10 people outside of a workplace will be permitted.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed that 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, Diko said, adding that it will be elaborated on by president Ramaphosa on Thursday evening.

Return to work policies

The document states that the following rules will 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 DoH 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.
“The Department of Health will issue a comprehensive guidance note stipulating health and safety practices for returning to work,” the document states.

Additional rules

Before any sector resumes activity, the following conditions must be in place:

  • Each sector must agree upon a Covid-19 prevention and mitigation plan with the minister of Employment and Labour, the health minister, and any other minister relevant to the sector.
  • Individual businesses or workplaces must have Covid-19 risk assessments and plans in place, and must conduct worker education on Covid-19 and protection measures:
    • Identification and protection of vulnerable employees;
    • Safe transport of employees;
    • Screening of employees on entering the workplace;
    • Prevention of viral spread in the workplace;
    • Cleaning of surfaces and shared equipment;
    • Good ventilation;
    • Managing sick employees.

Monitoring systems must be in place to ensure compliance with safety protocols and identify infections among employees, the document said.


Read: The boss of a South African company that employs 20,000 people has made an impassioned plea to the president

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Before going back to work after lockdown, these new rules will likely need to be in place