President Ramaphosa in his address to the nation last night announced a gradual and phased approach to allow economic activity from 1 May 2020. The following extract highlights some of the main aspects mentioned.
EXTRACT FROM PRESIDENT’S SPEECH
The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended South Africa for acting swiftly and for following scientific advice to delay the spread of the virus. Yet, while a nation-wide lockdown is probably the most effective means to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely. Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living. Companies need to be able to produce and to trade, they need to generate revenue and keep their employees in employment.
We have accordingly decided that beyond Thursday 30 April, we should begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity. We have accordingly decided that beyond Thursday 30 April, we should begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity.
We will implement a risk adjusted strategy through which we take a deliberate and cautious approach to the easing of current lockdown restrictions. We have decided on this approach because there is still much that is unknown about the rate and manner of the spread of the virus within our population.
The action we take now must therefore be measured and incremental. To achieve this, we have developed an approach that determines the measures we should have in place based on the direction of the pandemic in our country.
As part of this approach, there will be five coronavirus levels:
Level 5 means that drastic measures are required to contain the spread of the virus to save lives – this is the current state until 30 April 2020.
Level 4 means that some activity can be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions required (stringent hygienic measures) to limit community transmission and outbreaks.
Level 3 involves the easing of some restrictions, including on work and social activities, to address a high risk of transmission.
Level 2 involves the further easing of restrictions, but the maintenance of physical distancing and restrictions on some leisure and social activities to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
Level 1 means that most normal activity can resume, with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times.
To ensure that our response to the pandemic can be as precise and targeted as possible, there will be a national level and separate levels for each province, district and metro in the country.
We are currently at Level 5, which requires a full national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
The relevant Ministers will provide a detailed briefing on the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level. We will give all industry bodies an opportunity to consider these details and, should they wish, to make submissions before new regulations are gazetted.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) met earlier today and determined that the national coronavirus alert level will be lowered from level 5 to level 4 with effect from Friday, the 1st of May.
This means that some activity will be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions to limit community transmission and outbreaks.
Some businesses will be allowed to resume operations under specific conditions.
Every business will have to adhere to detailed health and safety protocols to protect their employees, and workplace plans will be put in place to enable disease surveillance and prevent the spread of infection.
All businesses that are permitted to resume operations will be required to do so in a phased manner, first preparing the workplace for a return to operations, followed by the return of the workforce in batches of no more than one-third.
POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE WINE INDUSTRY?
As stated by the president, relevant Ministers will over the next few days consult and then publish regulations and specific directives. We are aware that a number of draft documents are currently in circulation, but can only act on published regulations in the Government Gazette.
While it is our understanding that the export of wine and related processes, as well as certain local licenced outlets (GWL – grocers with licence), are listed under level 4 (permitted from 1 May), we would caution business owners against basing any decisions on this until formal publication of any/all regulations.
There are also a number of questions that still need clarification (intent and interpretation) such as:
- Will the export of wine via road be allowed (African countries)?
- Will wine be classified as an essential product or exempted product?
- Will all imports be allowed?
- When will online sales be allowed?
- Provincial and metro restrictions that might be implemented?
- Specific procedural and safety protocols required?
We will continue to engage and deliberate with relevant Government departments to ensure clarity/certainty to the wine industry and will communicate any official outcome as we go along. It is of the utmost importance to reiterate that as per the President’s address it will not be business as usual and all necessary precautionary steps (protocol) with regard to safety of personnel and workplace should be implemented.
We will communicate any further developments as they unfold.