Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has announced that South Africa’s telecommunications workers will be exempt from the COVID-19 national lockdown.
The minister made the announcement during a media briefing on government’s plans to tackle the virus’s spread during the national lockdown announced by President Ramaphosa on Monday night.
“We regard digital infrastructure as a critical service and will ensure that both fixed-line and mobile telephony systems are maintained during South Africa’s 21-day lockdown,” Patel said.
The minister noted that these workers were regarded as essential to keep communication infrastructure functioning.
“Workers and professionals connected with any of those services will be exempted from the lockdown because those are critical means of communication, but also (to provide for) economic activity that can be done from home,” he added.
Eskom workers also exempt
In his address, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that maintenance workers in the power, water, and telecommunications industry would be allowed to keep working, along with workers in certain essential industries.
Patel also elaborated on plans to ensure Eskom’s power generation would be sufficient during the crisis.
“This includes working with coal mines through to coal trucks, through to arrangements at the various Eskom plants,” he said.
“Generation, transmission, distribution – all of those (workers) will be exempted from the lockdown,” Patel stated.
The minister said that the government expected a decrease in demand as large enterprises shut down operations.
Essential services excluded
According to President Ramaphosa, employees who will be excluded from the lockdown’s restrictions further include the following:
- Health workers in the public and private sectors
- Emergency personnel
- Security services – Including police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, and soldiers
- Other persons necessary for the government’s response to the pandemic
- Workers in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods
- Essential banking services
- Laboratory services
- Provision of medical and hygiene products.