Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Businesses that do not comply with lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus will be shut down, Gauteng premier David Makhura says.

The provincial government is working with various sectors in Gauteng to ensure they are compliant with requirements such as sanitation, social-distancing and wearing masks.

Gauteng is the economic heart of SA and ordinarily contributes more than a third of the country’s GDP, but its economy faces devastation as a result of the lockdown.

Though Makhura said earlier in the week that the province would move to the less restrictive lockdown level 3, he emphasised that the decision to move to different levels will be made by the National Coronavirus Command Council.

Makhura, who met with businesses on Wednesday, said he expects that everything will be in place, but that if “a business doesn’t comply, we will simply shut that business down” and that workers’ rights will not be placed at risk.

The province has focused on getting the retail sector and the transport industry compliant with the measures imposed. It will also focus on other sectors, such as manufacturing and mining, which employ large amounts of people.

Makhura said that as the province gets key sectors compliant, the focus will be on community participation. “The critical issue in our communities is that the police cannot force people to wear masks. It’s not the job of the police to help change behaviour.”   

While the amount of active cases in the province, which is the original epicentre of the outbreak in SA, have been relatively low in comparison to the recoveries, Makhura said the number of active cases have increased from 25% of all confirmed cases last week to 27% this week.  

He said the province is concerned about Ekurhuleni, which as a district is now a hot-spot in Gauteng in terms of new infections.

While the province is preparing to get the economy going under level 3, the provincial department of education is dealing with reopening schools on June 1. Makhura assured parents that, just as Gauteng will not be soft on businesses, it will also not be soft on schools. “No school will open unless they meet the stringent health and safety standards.”

He said it was not only about protecting children, but also teachers. He emphasised that the government is not gambling with the lives of children, and encouraged parents to check up on whether schools are ready.

He said workers should also raise any non-compliance issues if they are required to go back to work.

mailovichc@businesslive.co.za