South Africa will enforce a three-week lockdown over COVID-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday. In a televised address to the nation, the President said the 21-day lockdown will begin at midnight Thursday 26 March and he called on the country to “urgently and dramatically” escalate its response. “Immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to avoid human costs of this virus,” said Ramaphosa, adding that if the nation failed to act swiftly, it could face “a human catastrophe of enormous proportions.”
Under the lockdown, people will not be allowed to leave their homes except to buy food, medical supplies, collect social grants or seek medical attention. All shops and businesses will be closed except for pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers as well as laboratories, banks and other essential financial services. Government has initiated some support for businesses through the Unemployment Insurance Fund through a new “National Disaster Benefit”.
The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has published Regulations under Section 3 of the National Disaster Management Act of 2002 (Act 57 of 2002). The Minister of Trade and Industry and Competition (the DTIC), Mr Ebrahim Patel furthermore announced that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the DTIC in order for them to trade during the period of the lockdown in terms of the regulations published today by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website. If approved, you will be issued certificate. The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities requiring same that indeed the business has been given government permission to trade and that its employees are able to have unrestricted movement ONLY in the course of that trade. The full press release is available here.
FSA is working hard to increase the scope of the Regulations, but at this point in time all members are advised continue to operate while trying to register on the Bizportal, as the registration is for tracking only. The DTIC have acknowledged that there are IT problems with the portal and are addressing the problem. The authorisation to operate is in the Regulations because timber is an input for other critical products.