In an effort to assist the economy to recover, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) has called for the imminent Level 3 lockdown to be used as an opportunity to expand local production and greater consumption of South African-made goods.
“As part of supporting the health system, NEDLAC wants to see significant production in South Africa of many of the resources – including personal protection equipment, masks, ventilators and thermometers – required on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19,” it said.
NEDLAC constituencies met on Friday in a virtual meeting, co-chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa to assess preparations for the move from level 4 of the national lockdown.
Friday’s meeting was the first in a series of consultations, led by the President between government and social partners as well as more specific, sectors of civil society on the migration from Level 4 to level 3 of the lockdown.
Social partners expressed their support for the risk-adjusted approach South Africa has taken to the reopening of the economy, as well as for the original restrictions put in place to give the country time to prepare the health system for the management of COVID-19 infections.
At the meeting, constituencies reported on their respective preparations for the step-down to Level 3, which will more than double the current number of people who have returned to work as part of the level 4 easing.
NEDLAC also received calls that social and food support be intensified in vulnerable communities; that all businesses comply with COVID-19 safety measures, and that greater funding and other support be extended to community-based organisations.
More than 1.5 million people are employed by 150 of the community-based organisations that are registered in the country.
Social partners agreed on the need for the strengthening and sustainability of prevention measures at workplaces, on public transport and in public places, as elements of a long-term way of life in the midst of COVID-19.
“President Ramaphosa expressed his appreciation to the social partners for their commitment to making the progression to level 3 a reality,” said the Presidency following Friday’s meeting.
The President reiterated that progression to level 3 must be accompanied by the crucial, non-negotiable and practical interventions in the country’s Coronavirus prevention toolbox.
These include lockdown, to achieve social distancing; hand hygiene practices; the wearing of cloth masks in public places, frequent cleaning of the work environment and other public spaces; symptom screening; testing, isolation, quarantine and contact tracing; the etiquette of coughing into one’s elbow or a tissue and the use of personal protection equipment by all health workers.
The President expressed optimism that the work done by NEDLAC and government’s continued consultation with other formations and sectors could deliver an advance to level 3 before the end of May 2020.