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Companies must adhere to strict health, safety protocols - Ramaphosa

The president warned that the risk of a massive increase in COVID-19 infections would be greater as the economy opened up and millions of more people returned to work.

FILE: Eight million workers are expected to return to work with the president emphasising the safety of workers. Picture: 123rf.

JOHANNESBURG - As the country prepares to ease down to level 3 on 1 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday stressed that companies would have to commit to strict protocols to ensure that workplaces are ready to prevent the virus before they reopened.

Ramaphosa warned that the risk of a massive increase in COVID-19 infections would be greater as the economy opened up and millions more people returned to work.

Level 3: all the lockdown regulation changes come 1 June

While labour and business agreed for the country to move to level 3, unions were unhappy with the conduct of some employers accusing them of not putting in place safety measures to protect workers.

Ramaphosa said all manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, among others, could open for business on 1 June.

The companies have a week to put in place strict health protocols including daily screening of employees. However, it was unclear whether the safety protocols would suffice following the outbreak of COVID-19 at several businesses last week.

The mining sector was hardest hit with AngloGold Ashanti the latest to announce that 164 workers at its Mponeng Mine tested positive.

WATCH: Ramaphosa on lockdown: SA will move to level 3 on 1 June

Eight million workers are expected to return to work with the president emphasising the safety of workers.

“In opening up the economy, we will rely on social compacts with all key role players to address the key risk factors at the workplace and in the interface between employees and the public,” Ramaphosa said.

“We will, therefore, be finalising a number of sector protocols and will require every company to develop a workplace plan before they re-open,” he added.

Under level 3, full retail trade would be allowed including for spaza shops and informal traders.

These sectors of the economy have been among the hardest hit by earlier lockdown rules, with informal sector workers and employers complaining about lack of recognition and support from government.

On Sunday night, Business Unity South Africa called on its members to ensure workplaces were coronavirus prevention ready when workers returned to work, also echoing the president’s call on the public transport system to ensure its readiness.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.