Many businesses will be heaving a sigh of relief following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday night, that from June 1st, the country will be moving to level three of its lockdown regulations. This means over 8 million people will return to work and industries such as manufacturing, mining, construction, media and government services which had been operating at 50 % at level four, will now operate at full capacity.
However, the world of work that many people will be returning to will be vastly different from the one they are used to.
Announcing the move to level three, President Ramaphosa said companies will have to adhere to strict safety protocols and social distancing rules, adding they also need to develop a workplace plan before they are allowed to open. “According to these plans, companies will need to put in place sanitary and social distancing measures and facilities; they will need to screen workers on arrival each day, quarantine those who may be infected and make arrangements for them to be tested,” Ramaphosa said.
The controversial ban on the sale of alcohol has also been lifted under level three, but cigarettes are still not allowed. According to President Ramaphosa the decision to continue the ban was made due to the health risks posed by smoking. This will infuriate smokers who feel the government is eroding their rights as consumers. Cigarette companies have also criticized the government’s heavy-handed approach and have blamed the ban on the proliferation of a black market controlled by criminals.
Overall, from an economic standpoint the move to level three will see around 75 % of the economy back in action again. This is a positive development, as greater economic participation will alleviate the strain on many households who have been battling to make ends meet.
The President also provided a word of warning stating the easing of lockdown regulations does not mean the danger posed by Covid19 is over. He called on South Africans to continue to be vigilant to the danger posed by the virus