Are you starting to trade during level 4 COVID-19?

If your SME is getting ready to operate, there are a few things you should know to protect your staff and keep your business open.

For a detailed overview of Level 4, please see our guide.

What does COVID-19 level 4 mean for your business?

On 23 April, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a phased return to work.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, South Africa would operate on a risk level strategy, said Ramaphosa.

Here’s a list covering all the industries that may return to work if you’re still unsure about your SME.

The National Government has also published the following snapshot of “permitted” industries.

Agriculture, manufacturing, and construction:

Financial and business services, transport, and repair:

Retail and food services:

Other key level 4 lockdown points:

  • Alcohol sales remain prohibited, but you can export wine.
  • Exports allowed for all agriculture, agro-processes, fishing, and forestry products
  • Accommodation establishments remain closed to the public

So, how many businesses are going back?

Between 18% and 25% of SMEs will go back during level 4, said Mike Anderson of the NSBC on Hot 91.9 FM. And it’s estimated 1.5 million people will return to work this week.

7 things South African business owners need to know about level 4 lockdown

If you’re getting ready to open shop this week, there are strict health and safety rules. Companies that fail to follow these measures have been shut down.

You need to apply for permit

You need to apply for an essential services certificate on the Bizportal.

To apply, complete the application form on Bizportal.

Communicate with staff

Communication with staff is critical, said Robyn Stone, Head of Talent at Lulalend.

Stone suggested the following points to consider when communicating with staff:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Optimism

Kindness was the most important, added Stone:

“The state of current affairs is heavy on the heart, so it’s important to be kind at all times. Not only as the Business Owner or HR delivering the comms, but by encouraging kindness between colleagues and teams. When you’re communicating remotely, things like empathy can get lost in translation so it’s important to express warmth in your tone,” said Stone.

Develop a back to work plan

All companies will need a return to work plan.

As you prepare to return to the office, you must also designate a COVID-19 compliance officer.

This person will need to:

  • Make sure your company is following health and safety measures
  • Develop a plan for phased return of staff

Stone suggested creating a shared document so all employees can check updates to the return to work plan.

The number of employees you have will influence your back to work plan.

Companies with fewer than 10 employees, for instance, need to comply with less requirements. These are discussed in clause 40 of this Gazette from the Department of Employment and Labour.

Work from home first

Staff who can work from home should do so, states the regulations.

Pregnant and vulnerable employees should be allowed to work from or work from an isolated space in the office, reports the National Employer Association of South Africa’s COVID-19 toolkit.

All your workers need a permit to come to work

You will need to complete a permit for each staff member considered essential. They will need to carry the permit and a form of identification when they travel to work.

Maintain social distancing

Some industries may only allow a percentage of workers to return to the office.

All workplaces must cater to social distancing requirements, said Nxesi.

“With regard to social distancing, workplaces must be arranged to ensure a minimum of 1½ meters between workers. If this is not practicable, physical barriers must be erected and workers must be supplied free of charge with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”

Stone encouraged companies to consider creating a shared calendar for when staff would be in the office.

Getting to work

Regulations have been relaxed for people travelling to work by public transport or car.

Updated regulations include:

  • Public transport can operate between 5am and 7pm
  • All passengers must wear a face mask
  • Minibus taxis can take 70% load
  • For metered taxis and Ubers, a 5-seater can take 2 passengers and a driver
  • Buses can take 70% of the number of passengers they are licensed to carry

Everyone can now access emergency repair services.

You can find additional COVID-19 resources for SMEs here:

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