South Africa moved to a level 2 lockdown earlier this week, further easing restrictions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa called on the country to urgently focus its efforts on recovery, but warned that a move to a lower level is not a ‘free for all’.
“It is a sign of the progress we are making in reducing new infections and demand on our health facilities. It is also a very important development as we strive to restart our economy. But it is too soon to celebrate,” he said.
While the new rules around the sales of alcohol and tobacco products have been well documented, the latest regulations also introduce a number of small but important changes, particularly for the workplace.
Shane Johnson of law firm Webber Wentzel outlined some of the following notable changes:
1. New face mask definition
The regulations define “face mask” to mean a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth, or another appropriate item to cover the nose and mouth.
The wearing of a face mask remains mandatory for every person when in a public place. This includes the workplace. No person (including visitors and customers) should be allowed to enter a workplace if that person is not wearing a cloth face mask.
2. Gatherings at workplaces and conference
Gatherings at a workplace for work purposes are permitted. Employees must wear a face mask and adhere to all health protocols and social distancing measures when attending a gathering.
Gatherings at conferences and meetings for business purposes are also permitted subject to a limitation of 50 persons.
All attendees must wear face masks and adhere to all health protocols and social distancing measures.
3. Businesses with more than 100 employees
All businesses may operate, except for those listed in specific economic exclusions.
Businesses with more than 100 employees, working together in a group in the same floor space, must make provision for minimising the number of employees at any given time.
For example, this can be done through the use of rotation or shift systems and remote working arrangements or similar measures.
4. Phased-in return
Employers must phase-in the return to work of employees from other provinces, metropolitan areas and districts.
They must develop measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols, adequate space for employees and social distancing measures.
The regulations still provide that employees who are able to work from home must do so.
Employers are still under an obligation to implement special measures for vulnerable employees to facilitate their safe return to work. Where possible, special measures may include vulnerable employees working from home.
5. Compliance officers
Employers are still obligated to designate a Covid-19 compliance officer who must oversee the implementation of the Covid-ready workplace plan and ensure strict adherence to health protocols in the workplace.
The Covid-ready workplace plan should correspond with the regulations and it should be retained for inspection. The plan must contain the following information –
- Employees who are permitted to work;
- The plan for the phased-in return of employees to the workplace;
- Health protocols that are in place to protect employees from Covid-19;
- Details of the Covid-19 compliance officer.
6. Firm-specific rules
Employers in the construction, manufacturing, business & financial service sectors, with more than 500 employees, must adhere to the appropriate sector or workplace arrangements or compacts to address the following:
- Provide or arrange transport to employees coming to site;
- Stagger the return to work of employees;
- Screen employees daily for Covid-19 symptoms;
- Submit data collected during the screening and testing process to the Director-General: Health.
Sector-specific health protocols may be developed and implemented in consultation with the Department of Health.
You can read the full directive below.