SA Inc to open for business in stages, but restrictions remain

President Cyril Ramaphosa says government will take a cautious approach in opening the economy

23 April 2020 - 22:12 By S'THEMBILE CELE
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that there will be a partial easing of the lockdown from May 1. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that there will be a partial easing of the lockdown from May 1. File photo.
Image: TimesLIVE

Limited economic activity will resume in SA next week Friday as government sets about a gradual reopening of the economy and the easing of some lockdown restrictions.

Addressing the nation for the second time this week, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that government would take a cautious approach in opening up the economy which would be guided by science.

“This approach is guided by the advice from scientists who have advised that an abrupt and uncontrolled lifting of restrictions could cause a massive resurgence in infections. We cannot take action today that we will deeply regret tomorrow,” Ramaphosa said.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa updated South Africa on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the country on April 23 2020. He also announced the phased reopening of the South African economy. From the beginning of May, South Africa will go from alert level 5 to level 4.

“We must avoid a rushed reopening that could risk a spread, which would need to be followed by another hard lockdown, as has happened in other countries. We have to balance the need to resume economic activity with the imperative to contain the virus and save lives.”

The president also announced government's formulation of five “coronavirus levels,” which would be used in a similar fashion to that of load-shedding stages.

Government will fluctuate between the levels depending on the country’s state of infection.

“The National Coronavirus Command Council will determine the alert level based on an assessment of the infection rate and the capacity of our health system to provide care to those who need it.

“To ensure that our response to the pandemic can be as precise and targeted as possible, there will be a national level and separate levels for each province, district and metro in the country.”

Next week’s resumption of some economic activity will signal the start of the first move between levels, from level five to level four.

“We have undertaken a detailed exercise to classify the different parts of the economy according to the risk of transmission in that sector, the expected impact of the lockdown, the economic contribution of the sector and the effect on livelihoods. The relevant ministers will provide a detailed briefing on the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level.

Industry bodies will be given a chance to make representation on the classification of industries before the new regulations are gazetted. The businesses which will be given the green light to operate will have to do so under strict conditions.

“Every business will have to adhere to detailed health and safety protocols to protect their employees, and workplace plans will be put in place to enable disease surveillance and prevent the spread of infection. 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. In some cases, a sector will not be able to return to full production during level 4 while the risk of infection remains high.”

Businesses are encouraged to continue with a work-from-home policy wherever possible.


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