29 April 2020
SACCI Media Statement on risk-adjusted approach to re-activating the economy, by testing returning employees.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) welcomes the continuous engagement between business, government and labour on the response to the level 4 opportunity to get the economy reactivated.
President Ramaphosa has, together with health Minister Mkhize and other ministers, without doubt, provided diligence and care in managing this crisis and we commend them and their teams for their sterling stewardship.
We would like to re-emphasize our caution and view that, given the continued Covid 19 infection rate and rising mortality, it is critical that we proceed to reactivate the economy, only with enhanced mitigation measures against the spread of Covid 19.
What we should avoid is a situation that we are at level 4 and working towards level 3 and below, we then have to quickly regress back to level 5, due to a deteriorating Covid 19 pandemic situation.
In this regard, whilst we accept the standard protocol of screening, and testing only those who are symptomatic, isolating and contact tracing, SACCI emphasises the view that, together with the other enhanced mitigation measures to fight the pandemic, employees who are allowed back to work must not only be screened, but they must have been tested to give the assurance that they are not asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
This will have the additional benefit of enhancing workplace productivity, and the social mitigation of avoiding suspicions that can lead to workplace morale issues, due to uncertainty on the shop floor. The reopening must be safe for both staff, suppliers, customers and the broader community.
The announced stimulus package and other measures should allocate the necessary resources to do this aggressive testing. In this regard it would assist the economy if the health authorities further explore the use of scientifically tested and regulatory approved Covid 19 rapid testing kits.
This should not be viewed as a cost. It is a necessary investment that will give us better traction and a sustainable programme of economic reactivation.
In summary we propose the following 7 measures as conditions precedent for the phased re-entry of any sector, including sectors currently operating:
1. All workplaces to be deep cleaned, sanitized and disinfected before they are allowed to reopen.
2. All employees to be tested negative before they resume or allowed back at work.
3. Continuous regular screening of the employees at work.
4. All employees to be provided with the relevant personal protective gear they need such as masks and gloves.
5. All input or raw products being received must be disinfected before entry into the premises.
6. The employees of the supplying companies including logistics, drivers, warehousing etc must test negative.
7. Transport to and from home must be deep cleaned, disinfected and sanitized regularly. The designated drivers must also test negative.
In the absence of a cure or a vaccine, the timeline of this global pandemic remains unknown. We may well be dealing with a situation that can take many months to resolve, at great cost to the economy and livelihoods. Given this reality, we believe these proposed measures should go a long way to reopening phases of the economy, without leading to a negative and rapid cycle of Covid 19 infections.
We urge government, business, labour and our communities to work together in taking joint accountability and responsibility to ensure that we take effective and sustainably successful measures to mitigate against both the Covid 19 pandemic and the potential collapse of the SA economy. It is not an either, or. It is both. It’s not a binary.
Contact: Alan Mukoki
Mobile: 082 551 1159