South Africa to reopen key sectors including agriculture, manufacturing and retail

The South African government will reopen its agriculture sector and allow some manufacturing and retail to resume, in order to kickstart the economy which has been shut down for over a month to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Thursday that the government will allow a partial reopening of the economy on Friday, with some industries allowed to operate under a five-level risk system.

“In agriculture, forestry and fishing, that whole sector will begin to reopen, and that will include forestry as well as horticulture and the transport of livestock and animal auctions,” said trade minister Ebrahim Patel in a televised media briefing on Saturday.

“In manufacturing, there will a further partial opening of the sectors. The sectors will not be open 100% during level four [starting on Friday] because we need to give firms an opportunity for phased return to work. As a broad baseline 20% of all manufacturing workers will begin to restart.”

Extra manufacturing activities like automotive manufacturing, cement production and other construction material will be scaled to 50% production rates. Open-cast mining will now be allowed at 100% capacity, according to a government document.

“It has been a hard balancing act, every industry, every worker wants to return to work, but we need to strike a careful balance between getting to work as rapidly as possible and containing the spread of the virus and saving lives,” Patel added.