An armed South African police officer controls safe distancing in a store's queue in the popular district of Yeoville in downtown Johannesburg. Picture: AP Photo/Jerome Delay
An armed South African police officer controls safe distancing in a store's queue in the popular district of Yeoville in downtown Johannesburg. Picture: AP Photo/Jerome Delay

Solidarity slams current lockdown, calls for 'smarter restrictions' to save economy

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Apr 12, 2020

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Johannesburg - The current format of the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is not sustainable and adjustments are necessary for the sake of the economy and to prevent spreading poverty, trade union Solidarity said on Sunday.

The lockdown in its current format would cause an economic implosion. Considering this, Solidarity this weekend made comprehensive proposals to President Cyril Ramaphosa and relevant ministers on possible changes to the lockdown measures, the union said in a statement.

"In its memorandum to the president, Solidarity makes proposals for smart lockdown measures so that South Africans can live and work well and in good health, while fighting the coronavirus fearlessly. More than 1800 South Africans contributed to the development of these proposals by Solidarity.

The current format of the lockdown is not sustainable and adjustments are necessary for the sake of the economy and the fight against the coronavirus, so that the focus on combating the spread of the virus does not cause the danger of spreading poverty," Solidarity said.

The proposals gave content to the president’s remark that it was necessary to look at how economic activity would be phased in again. Some of the proposals included amending regulations in such a way that it was possible for people who were healthy and able to work.

In the memorandum, Solidarity said every effort should be made to enable South Africa’s workers and entrepreneurs to earn an income to protect vulnerable and lonely citizens in South Africa, while maintaining peace and stability.

Solidarity proposed comprehensive measures to ensure that people could work well. These included strict hygiene regulations, protective equipment, rules around physical distancing, changed working hours, regulation of numbers in the workplace, workplace testing, and other risk restrictions.

"The purpose of Solidarity’s proposals is to enable people, during and after the lockdown, to work well for the benefit of the employee and the South African economy. Solidarity also made proposals for amendments of regulations to enable people to work well during and after the restrictions."

It was necessary to shift from only essential workers to everyone who could work well. The choice was not between health and work, but for a healthy work environment for as many people as possible, Solidarity head Flip Buys said.

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said Covid-19 would be with South Africans for a long time to come. "We need to find a sustainable answer for healthy work environments. If people cannot work, it will place so much pressure on any lockdown that it will implode.

"For a sustained fight against the virus, people must be able to work in healthy environments. We must be fearless against the virus and fearless towards the economy in order to limit the long-term impact on both health and the economy," he said.

Solidarity proposed that a smart lockdown be applied. International examples, such as the US, Italy, and China indicated that Covid-19 was concentrated in certain parts of the country.

"If the lockdown is focused on risk areas, medical, social, safety, and other resources can be focused especially on these areas. People in other areas may be allowed to move a bit more freely to enable them to work and live well. China in particular was successful with smart lockdowns by focusing on Wuhan and Hubei.

"The continued lockdown with its current restrictions can result in a boiling pot, which may lead to the lockdown being broken in an undisciplined manner, which will place great pressure on security forces, stability, and the fight against the virus. Smart restrictions so that people can live and work well can bring all South Africans together in the fight against the virus," Hermann said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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