Level four of the national lockdown that commenced on the 1st of May allows some activity to resume. The easing out of lockdown as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa is in full effect, and the country is currently at level four of the five levels. This means that certain economic activities and businesses can resume operations. 

Labour minister Thula Nxesi details what every employer needs to do at level four lockdown before gradually resuming operations. The minister stated: “In returning to work it cannot be business as usual,” businesses need to prioritize the safety of employees and employ strict preventative measures.

 “The process starts with a risk assessment in the workplace and a clear plan to implement the measures contained in the direction.” Said the Labour Minister. The process is as follows: 

  • Keep employees in the loop about process and how the commencement of business will be implemented.
  • Inform employees of the COVID-19 symptoms, to stay at home when they present with symptoms and grant paid sick leave. Alternatively, apply for COVID-19 TERS benefits.  
  • A manager must be appointed from the company structure to address COVID-19 concerns from the employees.
  • Measures need to be taken to minimize Coronavirus transmissions between colleagues and the general public.
  • Minimize the number of employees in the workplace to maintain social distancing through shifts or working arrangements.
  • Provide employees with detailed information about COVID-19 symptoms and how to prevent transmission.
  • Report COVID-19 diagnosis to the Department of Health and Department of Employment and Labour – failure to do so is an infringement.
  • Employers must support the Department of Health tracing measures.
  • Ensure a minimum of 1.5 metres between employees and if this is not possible, physical barriers to be erected and personal protective equipment to be supplied for free to employees. 
  • Social distancing must be maintained and overcrowding in canteen areas, meeting rooms and working spaces is prohibited. 
  • Employers must screen workers for symptoms when they report to work. Symptoms include; a cough, fever, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, body aches, loss of sense of smell, or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue or weakness.
  • Employees to immediately inform employers if they present with any symptoms at work. 
  • Employees who present with symptoms to be placed in isolation and arrangements made to transport them for medical examination or self-isolation.  
  • Shops (and other workplaces that are open to the public) to conduct screenings on everyone who enters the premises.
  • Employees who are in COVID-19 recovery to be medically evaluated, in line with instructions from the Department of Health, before returning to work. 
  • Provide sufficient hand sanitizer with a minimum of 70% alcohol content. Ensure work surfaces and common areas get regularly disinfected. Plus provide adequate handwashing facilities. 
  • Employers to provide each employee with two cloth masks, free of charge, to wear while at work or commuting. 
  • Suitable arrangements for washing and drying masks. The employer is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
  • Where a risk assessment indicates, workers must be provided with appropriate alternative PPE (e.g. N95 or N97 masks) to provide a higher level of protection. Every workplace must be well ventilated to reduce the viral load.
  • Employers to keep up to date with recommendations from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the National Institute for Occupational Health on the steps to take to prevent transmissions in the workplace. 

It is vital that businesses follow these guidelines, as more and more people will be gradually returning to work, to prevent COVID-19 transmissions. Read more about the five levels of the national lockdown, plus the guidelines here:

https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/labour-minister-thulas-nxesi-every-employer-must-do-the-following-under-level-4-lockdown-47493368

https://mg.co.za/article/2020-04-23-ramaphosa-announces-gradual-easing-of-covid-19-lockdown-in-south-africa/