Government eases lockdown to re-open economy

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Government has launched the Risk Adjusted Strategy for public comment and consultation, as it moves to ease the nation-wide lockdown while carefully considering public health and the re-opening of the economy.

The easing of the lockdown is government’s effort to gradually grease the wheels of the economy and unlock some local production for local consumption and export.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel launched the strategy on Saturday and outlined how government will re-open the economy gradually as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Thursday, the President announced that new lockdown regulations will come into effect as of 1 May 2020.

Under the new regulations, government will make use of an alert system that determines easing of restrictions.  

“Level 4 means the lockdown is still there but there will be a few changes. What is important is that there will be more people and companies opening up and more people going to work.

“We are taking all these measures to try and make sure that the curve of infection and the speed of the spread of infection is not high so that the curve does not overwhelm our health services,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

Under the different levels of alert, various scenarios are envisaged. Under level 5 the high virus spread and/or low health system readiness is forecast with a full lockdown implemented.

Level 4 forecasts a moderate to high virus spread with low to moderate readiness under high restrictions. Level 3 depicts moderate virus spread with moderate readiness and moderate restrictions.

Under level 2, government forecasts a moderate virus spread with high readiness and reduced restrictions. Level 1 is the desired scenario where a low virus spread is forecast with high readiness with minimum restrictions.

How quickly South Africans move from the imminent level 4 to the desired level 1 of lockdown rests squarely on their conduct, said the COGTA Minister.

But she cautioned South Africans from misinterpreting the easing of the lockdown and highlighted that the public health conditions must always be adhered to.

While some regulations will be eased, inter-provincial travel is prohibited unless it is for the return of work, school or travelling for a funeral. Recreational travel, meeting of friends and family is banned.

Exercise will be allowed but only under very strict conditions that are yet to be outlined. Regulations under which people may exercise will be published on Thursday.

Wear a face mask in public

With the ease of regulations and the return of various sectors back to work, government has made it mandatory for citizens to wear a fabric face mask while out in public.

“When you leave your house it will be mandatory to use a cloth face mask. We know that these cloth masks may not be easily available but you may use a cloth to cover your nose and mouth,” said the Minister.

Companies to implement public health protocol

And, as the public returns to work, companies are urged to enhance public health and social distancing arrangements at workplaces and public spaces.

In this regard, 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.

Additionally, employers must put in place workplace protocols for surveillance, risk assessment and prevention for the spread of infection. This includes measures to ensure that:

- There are stringent social distancing measures in the workplace, including in shared spaces such as shop floors, meeting rooms and canteens;

- All employees are screened on a daily basis for symptoms of COVID-19, including a symptom check as well as temperature assessment;

- All employees use cloth masks in transit and to the workplace;

- All workspaces and tools of trade are sanitised and there is sanitisers available or hand washing facilities with soap;

- There is adequate ventilation in the workplace.

“If we move down to level 4 and we do not stick to the conditions, restrictions and public health conditions and the virus starts speeding up in terms of more people getting infected faster government will have no option to move very swiftly back to level 5.

“If companies also don’t stick to what they are supposed to do then we go back up to level 5. It is all in our hands South Africans all depends on what we do and we must make that choice ourselves,” said the Minister.  

Transport

On transport, the current limitations and protocols on cargo and public transport, including taxi and e-hailing services, will continue but the Minister of Transport will announce adjusted directions, after consultations.

The feedback window on the Risk Adjusted Strategy is open for the next 48 hours, with a deadline of midday on Monday.

Representations must be sent to the following email address: nervecentre@cogta.gov.za using the prepared template that will be published on the government website. – SAnews.gov.za

 

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