Implementing the Covid-19 lockdown regulations

Implementing the Covid-19 lockdown regulations

The recently announced 21 Day COVID-19 Lockdown Regulations has understandably created much anxiety within the agriculture sector. 

Minister Ivan Meyer, assures the farmers and farmworkers that in terms of Regulation No. 398 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, the sector, being responsible for food security, has been declared as essential.

This declaration reemphasises that the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations, agro-processing and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, wholesale and retail services, and all support functions that ensure efficient delivery of the agro-food system have to be functional to ensure that there is access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.

“The safety of our farmers and farm workers on and off work is very important to us” he said.

“We have to ensure that critical agricultural production activities such as harvesting continue uninterrupted – this is done under strict prescripts as provided for in Regulation No. 398 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 and Department of Health COVID-19 hygiene protocol. General hygiene measures must, therefore, be strengthened.”

“National Government will continue to facilitate the export of strategic agricultural commodities to ensure safe and smooth trade during this period.”

“Enough food is available at our food distribution and logistics will ensure food security. There is, therefore, no need for panic buying of food as it only creates distortions and artificial scarcities within the food supply sector.”

“I am thankful for the excellent co-operation I have been receiving from organized agriculture and for their commitment to protect and support farmers and farm workers during this period.”

How to contain the Corona pandemic: health and safety should enjoy the highest priority

The agricultural and agribusiness sectors, who have been granted a special dispensation to continue working under the present lockdown circumstances, needs to strictly adhere to the Government Gazette published regulations.

The majority of enterprises in the agricultural value chain qualify as “essential services” under the regulations published by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma. The Regulations permit entities involved in the production and sale of essential goods, such as food items, to continue operating under the national lockdown, but subject to strict hygiene, sanitation and social-distancing protocols.

Dr. John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, said that farmworkers are the bedrock of the agricultural sector and these men and women are currently risking their safety and health to ensure the nation stays food secure during these trying times. Their safety cannot be compromised as there would be no food security without them. “By not complying, the sector runs the risk of more stringent and onerous measures being introduced.”

“We urge the sector to hold itself accountable and prioritise the health and safety of everyone in the food value chain. It is our firm belief that the vast majority of employers in the sector have the best interests of their workers at heart and are working under trying conditions to ensure the nation stays food secure. 

Our fresh fruit and vegetable supply unaffected in face of COVID-19 lock down

As an essential part of the country’s food security network, South Africa’s fresh fruit and vegetable supply channels will remain active and efficient – even given the recent announcement of lock down measures…

‘Fresh fruit and vegetables are an essential part of the food security network and South Africa is filled with world class producers, big and small, who produce fresh produce of the highest quality and pack and transport it, adhering to required international hygiene standards,’ says Jaco Oosthuizen, CEO of RSA Group, the country’s largest fresh produce sales organisation.  

To ensure this high level of adherence, RSA Group’s Business Unit Heads are running ongoing briefing sessions on hygiene protocols at all of its fresh produce markets of operation. This ongoing programme will allow it to keep on servicing the crucial local retail sector effectively and safely, while also ensuring that its Freshworld export operation continues to do business for all of its producers and their customers. 

‘We trust that market management and relevant local authorities will be taking matching and supporting health and safety actions,’ says Oosthuizen. ‘It’s crucial that all industry players coordinate their efforts to protect local businesses and ensure consumer safety and national food security at this time.’ 

Thankfully, South Africa’s fresh produce market system is robust and able to adjust to sudden changes in supply and demand. Markets remain the primary reference point for fresh produce prices, and the country’s markets are currently fully stocked. Stable prices are reflective of this. 

‘The system is structured to ensure producers and buyers are able to interact easily, even when external conditions change suddenly,’ says Oosthuizen. ‘This is a key strength of the South African fresh produce market distribution system, whether it’s facing a crisis or not.’

‘People need to be healthy in the middle of this pandemic, and fresh fruit and vegetables play a crucial role,’ Oosthuizen adds. ‘Fresh produce markets across the country are following strict hygiene standards, so when it comes to shopping and eating fresh fruit and vegetables, consumers should simply focus on following the basic COVID-19 guidelines. Make sure you wash your hands well, and regularly, and of course wash the produce thoroughly before cooking or eating it.’

‘The fresh produce market system is strong and functioning well,’ Oosthuizen concludes. ‘I am confident we will meet all national food security requirements during lock down.’ 

How does the Covid-19 lockdown effect your employees’ salaries?

How does the Covid-19 lockdown effect your employees’ salaries?

The global outbreak of Covid-19 has steered the world’s economy into unchartered territory. The President’s lockdown-announcement last night confronts the South African economy directly with this stark reality.

‘No work, no pay’
This is the legal principle which will apply throughout the lockdown. Although some employers may be in a financial position to deviate from this principle, they must do so taking into consideration the long-term sustainability of their businesses.

What if the lockdown is in excess of three weeks?

Although there is currently no indication that this will be the case, companies making a decision in respect payment of employees must calculate an extended lockdown period into the equation.

Business must reserve its capabilities in order to remain sustainable for a protracted period – the fight against the spread of Covid-19 and the long-term survival of business may turn out to be a

“WAR OF ATTRITION” In the absence of the appropriate government gazettes detailing UIF and other potential forms of aid to business, and by implication their employees, business should not make any salary commitments to their employees.

NEASA will immediately communicate all relevant developments with appropriate advice throughout.

For any assistance call the NEASA Hotline on 086 016 3272 or send an email to

How does the Covid-19 lockdown effect your employees’ salaries?

Implications of nation-wide lockdown

On 23 March 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020 to midnight on Thursday 16 April 2020.  

This means that all South Africans will have to stay at home.  There are however categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown.  This include, amongst others, people involved in the production, distribution and supply of food, as well as supermarkets.

Read more at and see the full statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This decision should be seen against the backdrop that the number of COVID-19 cases has escalated from 160,000 to over 340,000 confirmed cases across the world.  In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases has increased six-fold in just eight days from 61 cases to 402 cases.  According to the President, the nation-wide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following: 

  • From midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020 until midnight on Thursday 16 April 2020, all South Africans will have to stay at home. 
  • The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic. It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products. A full list of essential personnel will be published. 
  • Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant. 
  • Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home. 
  • All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers. 
  • Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open. 

A full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open will be published shortly.

Agri SA’s tips for safe conduct is available in different languages at the following links:
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19 SWATI (1)
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19 XHOSA
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19_V1 AFR
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19_V1 isiZULU
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19_V1 SOTHO
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19_V1 Tshivenda
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19_V1 TSWANA
Agri SA’s tips for safe workplaces during COVID-19_V1