Business for South Africa (B4SA) welcomes the decision to progressively start reopening the economy on a risk adjusted basis. The return of limited economic activity will bring some relief to many millions of South Africans, and thousands of businesses which faced financial hardship or even collapse during the total lockdown. We are pleased that the five week lock-down created the time and space for South Africa’s combined public and private healthcare providers to increase their capacity to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
We recognise and thank all the many hundreds of private sector volunteers who constitute B4SA and who, working with their counterparts in government, have played such a pivotal role in rapidly preparing the country for this unrelenting challenge. The successes we have jointly achieved include, rapidly securing vast quantities of PPE and increasing healthcare capacity, supporting small businesses and workers both financially and through better emergency regulations, conducting detailed economic, health and risk analysis to help business and government understand the effects of Covid-19, and, through the Solidarity Fund, assisting in creating a mechanism to channel donations large and small to help alleviate some of the worst immediate effects on our people.
Notwithstanding various technical and communications challenges, substantial monies are now flowing to employees under the COVID TERS benefit scheme administered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Eligible employers who have not yet claimed for their employees under the scheme are urged to do so and to pay the benefits over to their employees as soon as possible.
B4SA welcomes the further clarification provided by government regarding applicable general provisions, as well as goods and services, as lockdown measures are eased enabling a transition to Level 4 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002. The updated regulations, including certain inputs submitted to government for consideration by B4SA on behalf of business, provide details for the reopening of sectors of the economy and easing of restrictions within the risk-adjusted process which considers the health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic. This is all in an effort to help ensure the restoration of a more stable economic environment. We thank all businesses and volunteers for the extensive input they have provided, within a very tight timeframe, to help ensure an effective gradual reopening of the economy.
The imperative for B4SA is to work toward advancing our transition to Level 3, rather than a regression to Level 5. This can only be achieved by adhering closely to the health protocols presented by government – see the Government Notice for “Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in the Workplace” link https://www.businessforsa.org/covid-19-occupational-health-and-measures-in-workplaces-covid-19-c19-ohs-2020/ – as well as other mitigation measures initiated to fight this pandemic.
These include making provision for employees who are returning to work to be screened and tested, and that they are free of any virus symptoms before returning to the workplace. Further, B4SA supports ensuring a safe environment for all stakeholders, by initiating certain non-negotiable interventions for employees, suppliers, customers and others entering (and travelling to and from) the workplace as part of this phased transition. In addition to the continuation of remote working where possible, safe social distancing, availability of sufficient sanitisation and regular washing of hands, these also include: ensuring work areas are cleaned, sanitized and disinfected before any reopening; employees and supplier delivery personnel entering (and re-entering) the work areas are to be screened and tested; ensuring the availability of appropriate PPE, with masks being an absolute precondition. All raw materials and other supplies entering the work area must also be sanitised.
B4SA’s subject matter experts are conducting a detailed assessment of the regulations and will continue to engage with government, business, labour and civil society to help ensure the regulations are understood, and to recommend future updates and adjustments that will best serve the nation. We appeal to South African businesses to abide by the regulations governing which business activities are permitted and the health precautions and practices to be undertaken.
The complete Government Notices for the Risk Adjusted Strategy Regulations may be viewed at: https://www.gov.za/documents/notices