Essential staff will have to carry permits when travelling during the coronavirus lockdown – here’s how it works

All modes of transport will be impacted by South Africa’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown including taxis, trains and e-hailing services, says minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.

Speaking in an interview with 702, Mbalula said that special provision will be made for essential workers who use public transport in the morning and evening peak times, with transport also being made available for essential workers who are required to work in shifts.

Mbalula said that all of these workers – including those who use private transport – will have to carry a permit showing that they are classified as ‘essential’ and are allowed to be on the roads.

“All employers will be expected to generate permits for special workers,” he said.

“If for example, you are working in a supermarket, Pick n Pay will have to produce a permit for each worker that shows you are permitted to work on this day in terms of the regulation and the lockdown.

“That will also happen (for other essential services) such as the media. As ministers, we have been given a guide and asked to define what is essential work and we have done that for our different departments.”

Government is expected to provide more clarity on this permit system as well as the list of essential services on Wednesday afternoon.

Essential services 

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.

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.

Read: Why we need clear guidelines ahead of Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa: DA

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Essential staff will have to carry permits when travelling during the coronavirus lockdown – here’s how it works