South Africa is entering a new phase of level 4 lockdown on Monday morning with about 1.5 million people expected to return to work under eased regulations.
The partial re-opening of the economy was implemented on 1 May, but it was a public holiday and many people were away from work.
The loosened restrictions come after iron-clad conditions that were attached to the 35-day level 5 lockdown.
Under level 4 of the lockdown, a number of sectors with a low rate of coronavirus transmission were permitted to operate, provided employers observed strict health protocols.
About 40% of the labour force is expected to return to work on Monday and this meant the roads will be busier.
But there were conditions attached to public road transportation such as operating strictly between 5 am and 7 pm.
Everyone hopping on a bus, taxi, or online hailing services would be required to wear a mask.
Businesses would open strictly for essential services including winter goods, books and office supplies, IT equipment, and groceries.
Childminders, car mechanics for emergencies as well as restaurant and fast food outlet workers were back at work, but only deliveries to homes and businesses were allowed.
Since level 4 of the lockdown was implemented, thousands of South Africans flocked to shopping centres, which raised fresh fears about the potential rapid spread of COVID-19.
WORKPLACE PROTECTIVE MEASURES
Meanwhile, among the raft of basic measures on an employer’s compliance checklist was to ensure the workplace is well ventilated, staff members are supplied with cloth masks and sanitiser at no cost, work surfaces are cleaned regularly, and social distancing of one and a half metres is in place.
If this is difficult to achieve, physical barriers should be erected, and personal protective equipment should be supplied.
Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said: “In addition, as the failure to comply fully with the OHSA [Occupational Health and Safety Act] is a criminal offence, failure to take the necessary measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 may result in criminal prosecution.”
Nxesi said employers should also screen staff members for any symptoms when they report for duty.