He said because these businesses cannot take place without some kind of physical contact, making sure they open safely will be vital.
“We’ve seen that as companies and industries reopen, even the ones where workers don’t have to work in physical contact with each other, there has been an increase in infections. At some stage, this translates to more South Africans dying. It is a very serious and very critical issue in which we need to work cautiously and carefully,” Patel said on Friday during an economic cluster briefing on level 3 restrictions.
He said the focus, at this stage, has been on non-contact companies and industries.
“We’ve spent the period since level 4 working on those areas that can be opened reasonably safely through level 3, and we’re now working with those companies to embed various protocols and social distancing arrangements. There are a smaller number of economic activities that have not opened yet.
“Most of our attention has been on sectors where people don’t have to have physical contact. With hair cutting and so on there is no way it can be done without the person coming into direct contact with the client or the consumer.
“There are additional measures that may be necessary, and these will have to be looked at,” said Patel.
He said government would now be “reaching out” to the businesses that hadn’t been allowed to open their doors yet.
“These are businesses employing people, and one recognises the hardship those businesses are going through. The challenge we face in all of this is making sure that the safety of South Africans is a joint initiative. Government has a role to play, citizens, all of us. It’s working bit by bit, step by step. through the different sectors,” he said.