These are the people that will be allowed to return to work from 1 May

 ·25 Apr 2020

Government has outlined the industries which will be allowed to return to work as part of the phased lifting of South Africa’s lockdown from 1 May.

In a media briefing on Saturday (25 April), minister of Trade and Industries Ebrahim Patel said that a number of factors were considered when compiling the list of businesses that were considered including:

  • Risk of transmission;
  • The economic impact of the continued closure of that sector;
  • The broader contribution of the sector to the economy;
  • The socio-economic importance of the sector.

“The focus of this phase is the restarting of the economy,” he said. “We estimate that it will allow an additional 1.5 million workers to return to work. This means that around four of ten workers (40%) will be able to make their way back to work as part of this phased process.”

Below he outlined the businesses that will allow to return to work and the restrictions that apply to them.

Wholesale and retail 

Patel said that more stores will be allowed to open during under the new restrictions.  He added that the following items may be sold by South African retailers:

  • Food, hygienic, cleaning, protective & baby care, stationery;
  • Winter clothing, bedding, and heating;
  • Personal ICT equipment (home office equipment and mobile phones);
  • Medical supplies
  • Fuel and gas;
  • Hardware supplies for qualified tradespersons for essential workers ;
  • Components for vehicles for essential workers;
  • Chemicals and packaging;


The following workers may return based on the following restrictions:

  • 100% of workers related to the manufacturing of Level 4 products and paper;
  • 50% of workers related to the manufacturing of stationery, cement and construction;
  • 50% of workers related to the manufacturing of automotive equipment;
  • 100% of workers related to the production of fuel and refineries;
  • 50% of workers related to the manufacturing of winter clothing and bedding;
  • 20% of all other manufacturing.

Transport and Logistics

  • Cargo for domestic and neighbouring transport, with the prioritisation given to Level 4 goods;
  • E-hailing;
  • Limited public transport.


  • Online services and live streaming;
  • Newspapers and broadcasting.


  • Vehicle recovery;
  • Emergency car repairs;
  • Emergency repair work (plumbers, electrician etc.)


  • All ICT workers;
  • All workers related to the sale of ICT equipment and airtime;
  • Postal and courier services for medical sand other Level 4 products.


All workers will be allowed to return subject to social distancing rules. This includes:

  • Food, livestock and farming producers;
  • Essential fishing operations;
  • Harvesting;
  • Forestry.


  • 100% of workers will be allowed to return where they are responsible for coal production for Eskom;
  • 100% of workers can return where they work with open-cast mining;
  • 50% of other workers may return.


  • All civil engineers can return where they are responsible for public works projects.
  • All civil engineers can return where they are responsible for emergency repairs.

Accommodation and food service

  • Accommodation used for quarantine purposes may be open;
  • Food delivery is allowed (subject to curfew).

Domestic support

  • Live-in staff and support for Level 4 personnel.


  • All social workers;
  • Funeral and cremation services;
  • Vet and medical services;
  • Sanitation and pest control services.
  • 50% of recycling workers.

Finance and business 

  • If possible, these workers should work from home;
  • Supporting Level 4 services (such as car rental);
  • Private security;
  • Call centres;
  • Essential financial services;
  • Payroll-related workers.


Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the major change under the ‘Level 4’ restrictions is that more people will be allowed to return to work.

She added that this list of industries was based on the risk of transmission in each sector, the economic impact of the continued closure of that sector, and the socio-economic importance of the sector.

Workers above the age of 60, as well as workers with co-morbidities, should be offered a ‘work-from-home option’ or remain on leave. All staff that can work from home should be allowed to do so.

Individual workplaces must have risk assessment and plans in place, while mass testing should be carried out for workplaces with over 500 workers.

Dlamini-Zuma also warned that if South Africans do not stick to restrictions and the number of coronavirus cases increases, government will have no option but to return to the current Level 5.

To prevent this, she said that there will be continued prohibitions including:

  • It will be mandatory to wear cloth face masks when you leave home;
  • The minister noted that visiting friends, neighbours and relatives will still not allowed under level 4;
  • Exercise will be allowed under very strict conditions. Gyms will remain closed;

South Africás lockdown levels

As announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening (23 April), the country is moving towards a graded alert level system, to determine how strict the country’s lockdown restrictions will be as it continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, while re-igniting the economy.

The president said a lockdown remains the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but it cannot be sustained indefinitely.

“Beyond the 30th of April, we will begin a phased and gradual return to economic activity,” he said.

“There is still much that is unknown about the manner and the spread of the virus among the population,” he said. “Therefore the action taken now must be measured.”

The levels, which denote the level of action needed to stop the spread of the virus, are as follows:

  • Level 5 – drastic measures are required;
  • Level 4 – some activity can be allowed, subject to extreme requirements;
  • Level 3 – the easing on some restrictions on work and social activities;
  • Level 2 – further easing of restrictions, but the maintenance of social distancing;
  • Level 1 – most normal activity can resume, with caution and health guidelines followed at all times.

Read: South African businesses will now be able to apply for ‘Covid-19’ loans at their bank – here’s what you need to know

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