BEYOND LOCKDOWN TO THE NEW NORMAL
FROM A STATE OF DISASTER ACT TO BUSINESS CONTINUITY AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT POLICY: BEYOND LOCKDOWN TO THE NEW NORMAL
OPENING THE ECONOMY
The times we are living in are of both terrible crisis and tremendous opportunities that await decisive leaders to change the world to be the new normal. The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed world events and has shaped our course of humanity to where we have never anticipated. We are now forced to break with the past and to acclimatize to the new normal way of doing things. The new normal demands innovation, efficiency and effectiveness, with the leaders that will withstand the daunting tasks before us.
We will not survive if we have flatfooted leaders who are unable to protect their workforce including learners from the virus, who will not come with strategies and operational plans that will bring about efficiency and effectiveness by deploying modern tools to achieve productivity and to maintain a competitive advantage in the new environment of the new normal.
From the lockdown to opening up of the economy, the following is proposed:
1. The Transition Period To The Opening of The Economy
The economy cannot be opened all at once after 30th April 2020; otherwise, it will reverse the gains that we have painfully achieved in the 43 days of the lockdown. The opening of the economy needs a well-calibrated and a systematic incremental staggered approach.
1.1 The high-risk areas are taxis, trains, buses, taxi ranks, schools, universities, public institutions like municipalities and government departments. To curb the widespread of infections the use of masks must be compulsory to everybody. Public areas must be fully sanitized including public transport.
1.2 Public transport must not be over capacity and must be strictly managed and controlled by the soldiers and police. PRASA must make available more trains and/or run them the whole day to cater for the extra numbers. Same must apply to the taxis.
1.3 The employers must stagger their working times and shifts by adjusting to flexible times. They must allow those employees who can work from home to do so, while those who are critical to be at the workplace to come in different times and days. There must be a change of work ethics and culture from the side of the employees and the unions and managers must inculcate this culture so that all the stakeholders are embracing the new normal.
1.4 In the office environment, they must strictly observe social distancing in terms of workspace operations.
1.5 With regard to schools and universities, online teaching platforms should be deployed and online training to be executed. Students must be equipped with laptops, as the UCT has started in leading the way and Wi-Fi in their place of residence. They must only attend classes or tutors in a very small number that is sufficient to allow acceptable social distancing. Wearing of masks should be mandatory and their place of meeting or gathering should be thoroughly disinfected.
2. Business Continuity And Disaster Management Policy
It is imperative that institutions must activate their business continuity and disaster management policies in order to systematically manage the containment of the virus while it puts mitigating measures to minimize the spread and resurgence of new infections. This will depend on the nature and the character of the institutions. It is understood that public institution will have a bigger risk.
2.1 Risk Management System must kick in and management must evaluate potential risk across the organisations about the potential infection of the virus. There must be clear mitigating strategies to be implemented across the organisations to contain the virus.
2.2 The disinfection of all public places in workplaces must be standard. The working environment must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised.
2.3 Various health surveillance mechanisms must be implemented. Testing of pressure must be conducted to all employees who report on duty including to members of public coming inside the workplace for assistance for services.
2.4 The same health protocols must be followed when it comes to students who have to meet for tutorials or lecture if it is necessary, otherwise online interaction and learning is encouraged and in some cases, it must be compulsory.
2.5 Members of public, students/learners and employees must be encouraged to have cloth masks at all times when they are in public. Wearing of the mask must be compulsory to minimise infections.
2.6 Public institutions must procure testing machines and disinfect the working places and public spaces during this period before the economy is opened.
3. Communication Strategy
There must be open fluid channels of internal communications. Communication is one of the important components in fighting the spread of the disease. It will be important that all the stakeholders be kept abreast of any new developments including the number of people suspected with infections, or any deaths associated with the virus.
Communication will assist all the stakeholders to be able to take necessary steps where possible and necessary in fighting the virus.
Communication must also entail informing the employees of the internal policies and protocols put in place by management. The importance of post-crisis analysis will form part of this.
Senior Law Lecturer and Social Activist