TWENTY-EIGHT (28) DAYS LOCKDOWN IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE FROM FRIDAY 3RD APRIL TO THURSDAY 30TH APRIL 2020 IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Reference is made to Circular Savingram DP 19/72 VIII (29) dated 31st March 2020 under the heading “INTERIM WORK ARRANGEMENTS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19”.
On Tuesday 31st March 2020, His Excellency, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi MP, President of The Republic of Botswana issued a statement on the declaration of state of emergency in accordance with Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of Botswana.
In his statement, His Excellency indicated that “There shall also be extreme social distancing commencing on 2nd April 2020 at midnight, for a period of twenty-eight (28) days. During this period of extreme social distancing, all individuals across the country will be expected to adhere to a more severe form of social distancing where movement out of the home is only restricted to those performing essential services and transporting essential goods. Those involved will be permitted to travel using the COVID-19 TRAVEL PERMIT that will be issued by Government”.
In light of the above, all public officers, are expected to adhere to extreme social distancing as directed. This therefore means, Thursday, 2nd April 2020 is the last day in the workplace, except for those performing essential services and approved critical services. Employees will be expected to remain at home and not move around.
Employees who are classified as essential services and those whose services will be required during the Lockdown period will be the only ones permitted to move out of their homes as and when required.
As per Section 9 (3) of the EMERGENCY POWERS (COVID-19) REGULATIONS, 2020, public transport shall be accessible only to employees providing essential services, persons accessing essential supplies and those performing approved critical services.
During the Lockdown the Public Service will continue to function effectively. Accounting Officers should therefore ensure there is continuous provision of critical and essential services at all times. Addressees should therefore organize and engage employees performing such services.
1. COVID-19 Emergency Operational Structures
His Excellency the President has set up Emergency Operations Centers at National, District, Sub District and Village levels that include Members of Public Service Unions to monitor the situation as it unfolds. In accordance with Permanent Secretary to the President Circular Savingram REF OPC 4/34/4 I. Addresses are expected to release employees appointed to these Committees on a full time basis.
2. PUBLIC OFFICERS CONDUCT
During this period of Lockdown, employees must continue to uphold highest levels of public service conduct, including respect and regard for public interest, compliance with labour laws of the land.
3. FRONTLINE EMPLOYEES
Front line employees are our foot soldiers in the COVID-19 warfare because they come in direct contact with the public and are therefore at high risk of exposure to infection; and no efforts shall be spared to ensure they work in a safe, secure and clean work environment. Consequently, Accounting Officers should ensure cleaning of hard surfaces such as workstations, countertops, doorknobs and other aspects of their work environment. They should also ensure that Frontline Employees are:
1.1 Provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and materials, e.g. hand sanitizers, masks, latex gloves, etc.;
1.2 Given requisite training and information to assist them to identify and to sufficiently mitigate risks;
1.3 Provided with Psycho-social counseling and support;
1.4 Conversant with the protocols pertaining to COVID-19 in order to respond to questions from the Public and to timeously identify risks; and
1.5 Provided with sufficient facilities including water for them to wash their hands at their workplaces.
Accounting officers are advised to ensure that employees who will be on duty during the Lockdown maintain the highest level of hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and observe the social distancing requirements as prescribed by rules governing public emergency Lockdown, and those issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
5. COVID-19 TRAVEL PERMIT
All movements should be in compliance with the National restrictions as announced from time to time. All employees who will be required to work during the Lockdown shall be issued with a COVID-19 Travel Permit.
In accordance with Permanent Secretary to the President’s Savingram Ref: OPC/34 /4/ dated 2nd April 2020, COVID-19 Confirmation of Employment in Essential Services Permit (FORM B) will be issued for Essential Services, and Declaration of Movement of Persons During State of Public Emergency Permit (FORM A) which will be issued for movement between places; shall be managed as follows:
5.1 Permanent Secretaries, Deputy Permanent Secretaries and Directors shall issue Essential Services Permits to their Headquarters based employees as they deem fit;
5.2 At the District and Sub District levels, District Commissioners, Deputy District Commissioners, Council Secretaries, Land Board Secretaries, Tribal Secretaries, and any other nominated Senior officers shall be responsible for issuance of permits at the District, Town, City, Sub-District levels, as may be deemed fit;
5.3 Essential Services Permits in Independent Departments. Parastatals, Private Sector shall be issued by Heads of such Institutions and any other Senior officials as they deem fit; and
5.4 At the Village or Settlement level, Essential Services and Movement Permit shall be issued by the Head Teacher/Headmaster as may be applicable in collaboration with the Headman/Chief’s Representative/Chief, Social Worker, Police, Veterinary Officer, Agricultural Demonstrator or the Head
of the District Health Team; and
5.5 All permits shall bear official stamp of the issuing authority.
6. WORKING FROM HOME
Accounting Officers are urged to consider their own environment and business needs, identify the most critical services that need to be performed during the Lockdown.
Such arrangements shall be limited to approved critical services as may be determined from time to time.
Employees performing non-critical services may be considered for home working. Addressees should consider their annual plans to determine and assign activities that can be executed from home during the Lockdown, and agree reporting modalities with their staff. Employees working at home are on duty and expected to be at their place of residence.
Accounting Officers and other decision making levels including those performing approved critical services will while working from home be considered to be on duty and may be called to work at any time.
During the Lockdown, salaries for all Public Service employees will continue to be paid as usual. Accounting Officers and the Accountant General should ensure that salaries, allowances and other benefits are processed timeously.
Accounting Officers are implored to continue consistently communicating with both their internal and external stakeholders to keep the public abreast of any changes or challenges in their services. All Ministerial Communication Coordinators are to liaise with the central Communications point at the Office of the President.
The Director of Public Service Management will monitor the COVID-19 as it unfolds and will issue regular communication from time to time to address any urgent and emerging work arrangements.
9. KEEPING UP TO DATE
As the situation is evolving, Government Ministries, Independent Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should regularly review the information contained in the Ministry of Health and Wellness websites.
Daily updates are also provided through BTV, radio and other media platforms.
10. ADHERENCE TO SAFETY HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT STANDARDS
Addressees are to ensure that adequate resources are provided for all employees who will be working during the Lockdown to enable compliance with Safety Health and Environment standards as prescribed by WHO guidelines and endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
A register of essential employees and all those who will be required to work must be kept weekly and sent to the Directorate of Public Service Management at the end of the lockdown period.
We will continue to update Public Service employees as and when the need arises.
12. TOGETHER WE CAN CONQUER COVID-19
Let’s unite to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect the people we serve and ourselves. Remember to observe precautionary measures as prescribed by the Ministry of Health and wellness.
STAY HOME AND BE SAFE
cc: National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union
Botswana Public Employees Union
Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union
Botswana Teachers Union
Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union
Trainers and Allied Workers’ Union
Botswana Government Workers’ Union
Botswana Nurses Union