PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says the Cabinet has decided to lower the alert level for the whole country from level 4 to level 3, marking a significant shift in the approach to Covid-19.     Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says the Cabinet has decided to lower the alert level for the whole country from level 4 to level 3, marking a significant shift in the approach to Covid-19. Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

Green light to get economy back on track

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published May 25, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the government was organising a number of sector protocols with the business sector as more lockdown restrictions would be relaxed to reopen the economy from June 1.

The lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, has ground economic activity to a halt since the end of March.

Ramaphosa said last night that all manufacturing, mining, construction, and financial services will commence full reopening from June 1, subject to these sector protocols being developed.

Professional and business services, information technology, communications, government services and media services will also resume operations 10 weeks after the lockdown was announced.

Ramaphosa said the Cabinet had decided to lower the alert level for the whole country from level 4 to level 3, marking a significant shift in the approach to Covid-19.

He said the government would rely on social compacts with all key role-players to address the key risk factors in the workplace and in the interface between employees and the public.

“We will therefore be finalising a number of sector protocols and will require every company to develop a workplace plan before they reopen,” Ramaphosa said.

“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 might be infected; and make arrangements for them to be tested.

“They also need to assist with contact- tracing if employees test positive.”

Businesses providing non-essential goods and services were prohibited to operate during the lockdown level 5, though some were allowed to resume during the relaxation to level 4.

The business sector has been for weeks lobbying the government to ease the lockdown restrictions, which have cost the economy an estimated R13billion a day.

Economic growth is forecast to contract significantly to an all-time low of between 10 and 15 percent this year, and the unemployment rate is forecast to rise to unprecedented levels.

Ramaphosa said an appropriate restart and phasing in arrangements will need to be put in place for every workplace.

He said wholesale and retail trade will be fully opened, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders, while e-commerce will continue to remain open.

“Other sectors that opened previously, such as agriculture and forestry, utilities, medical services, food production and manufacture of hygiene products, will remain fully opened,” he said.

However, certain high-risk economic activities such as restaurants, bars and taverns, except for delivery or collection of food, will remain prohibited. Accommodation and domestic air travel, except for business travel, is to be phased in on dates yet to be announced.

Conferences, events, entertainment and sporting activities, personal care services, including hairdressing and beauty services, will also remain prohibited.

Ramaphosa said the government was giving consideration to several proposals made by the tourism, hotel and restaurant industry regarding the challenges and hardships they face.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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