Minerals Council urges miners to avoid Easter travel
JOHANNESBURG - THE MINERALS Council South Africa has urged mine employees to avoid travel where possible and to behave responsibly if travel is unavoidable ahead of a possible third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The council, which represents 80 percent of the mining industry, yesterday advised mining companies to discourage employees from travelling over Easter where possible, and chief executives, management and union leadership should be seen to be leading by example.
The council recommended that public holiday work incentives should be used to encourage employees not to take leave over the long weekend and, where possible, the offer of four days’ leave later in the year should also be considered.
It said existing measures related to high-risk travel and high-risk activities should be maintained, such as negative polymerase chain reaction or antigen test and additional workplace exclusion following international travel or after an employee attended a funeral.
The council said it was aware that a significant post-Easter spike in infections, with a subsequent increase in hospitalisations and deaths, would have serious negative consequences for the industry, the economy and all South Africans.
“With that in mind, we call on employees and communities to exercise extreme caution over the long weekend, to avoid travel wherever possible, and to behave responsibly if travel is unavoidable,” said the council.
The call for mine employees to avoid travelling during Easter follows a special meeting about how to manage a possible third wave of Covid-19 around the Easter weekend.
“It is clear from expert inputs that the approaching Easter long weekend and other public holidays, as well as school holidays, could lead to a major surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths,” said the council.
When South Africa experienced a second wave in December and January, the mining industry saw a rise in infection levels when employees were away from work.
Of the industry’s 473 750 employees, to date there have been 32 908 positive Covid-19 cases, 133 active cases and 375 deaths.
The number of recoveries was 32 400.
More than a year ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a nationwide lockdown, during which Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe conducted several unannounced mine visits to assess compliance by mining companies to the lockdown regulations.
All mines were required to, among other things, conduct a risk-based assessment covering all workings at mines, reduce the number of employees transported on public transport per shift and, where applicable, reduce the number of shifts per day.
The primary objective of the government’s interventions was to ensure that as many people as possible were protected from Covid-19 and that the mining sector could bounce back from this challenge when the lockdown was lifted.