THE South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), recently announced that grant payments for April 2020 will be brought forward so that they can start on March 30. All other grants such as child support should be collected from April 1.In a statement on its social media platforms, SASSA said it was important to note that payments on the first two days would be for the elderly and people living with disabilities. “This emphasis on disability grants and prioritising the older person is an effort to ease congestion at retailers and banks in order to minimise the risk of infection,” the statement read.Since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the Covid-19 pandemic a national disaster, SASSA has also put certain precautionary measures in place at all offices, effective immediately. The measures are: Drawing money on first payment day: Beneficiaries are advised to avoid collecting their grants on the first day of payment due to the high influx of people at shopping malls and other outlets, which is a health risk.Once SASSA has paid money into a beneficiary’s account, the money will stay there and can be accessed any day of the month. ICROP – Integrated Community Registration Outreach Programmes: All ICROPs are suspended with immediate effect as most of the outreach programmes are attended by more than 100 people (including children and the elderly). Home visits: Home, clinic and hospital visits by SASSA officials are suspended with immediate effect. If a client is above 75 years of age, bedridden and unable to report to a SASSA office, an application process can be completed to have a procurator or proxy apply on behalf of the affected client.The procurator must be appointed in writing and the letter, along with all their documents, including an ID card, produced, so that the application can be processed. Managing numbers: Local office managers will ensure that the allowed number per day is adhered to so that no more than 100 people are served at a time. The number will depend on the size of the waiting area and when allowed in, clients must make provision for a space between themselves and adequate ventilation.Clients are also advised to not report to local offices for simple enquiries but to rather call the toll-free customer care numbers. Cash pay points: The organisation, with the help of the South African Post Office (SAPO), will ensure that the number of clients being serviced at a time does not exceed 100 people. This will also give SASSA the opportunity to interact with their clients and encourage them to consider other alternatives, such as banks, to access their money. The same space at local offices will be given at cash pay points. Priority will be given to the elderly and frail, people with disabilities, mothers with children and pregnant women. Staff at pay points will constantly keep clients informed of the process and emphasise that what is being done is to ensure that their safety is given preference. Hand sanitisers will be provided. Staff protection: All staff dealing directly with clients will be supplied with all the necessary protective kits. Post office outlets: SASSA and SAPO will work closely to implement measures to limit the number of people at post office outlets especially on the first few days of grant payments. The same requirements at local offices will apply to post office outlets. Hand sanitisers are available at all post office doors for clients to use before entering the premises.Additional cash dispensers will be used to ensure that there is no overcrowding around one or two dispensers at cash pay points and post offices. This will increase the speed of serving clients.SASSA offices will remain open during normal hours. Offices that were not operational whilst waiting for protection kits are now and will remain open. Protective kits are being delivered in batches to all offices.