South African Workers to return in batches of one third from 1 May


The phased reopening of South Africa’s economy from 1 May will come with stringent requirements for businesses, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Thursday.

Ramaphosa confirmed that the government plans to institute a five-level system under which some parts of normal life will be reactivated – depending on how fast SARS-CoV-2 is spreading, and how ready the health system is to deal with an influx of patients.

The country is due to be at Level 4 from 1 May. Though Ramaphosa provided no details, a draft plan held that agriculture, open-cast mining, and all financial and professional services would resume at Level 4, as would postal delivery. E-hailing services and taxis would also be allowed to operate any time of day, with limits on how many passengers they may carry.

Stores already open to sell essentials would also be able to sell a wider range of goods at Level 4.

Here is what we know about the requirements for businesses to reopen from 1 May.

Different sectors will have a formal opportunity to lobby for inclusion in the list of those that get to open at Level 4.

Though industry bodies representing everything from cigarette makers to the wine industry have tried to engage the government about emergency rules to date, they have not been formally consulted before regulations were made.

Various ministers are due to unpack details of the new return-to-work plan – including which industry will fall under what level – on Friday.

“We will give all industry bodies an opportunity to consider these details and, should they wish, to make submissions before new regulations are gazetted,” Ramaphosa said.

Return to work will be in batches of one-third of total employees at a time.

Businesses will not simply be allowed to throw open their doors, Ramaphosa said.

“All businesses that are permitted to resume operations will be required to do so in a phased manner, first preparing the workplace for a return to operations, followed by the return of the workforce in batches of no more than one-third.”

Some types of businesses may also still be required to operate at only part of their full capacity, in a similar fashion to mines that were allowed to reopen, but only at 50% production.


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