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By Gerhard Papenfus




26 March 2020

Since the final lockdown regulations were only circulated late afternoon on 25 March 2020, and the registration of companies for essential services was reported to commence on 26 March 2020, the potential for perceived non-compliance with the lockdown regulations does exist as companies may not have sufficient time to comply.

For the purpose of advising their respective business constituencies, business representative bodies will only have today to dissect the regulations issued by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

There is no doubt that responsible businesses, which are exempted from the lockdown, as a result of them providing essential services as contemplated in the regulations, will continue doing business with the utmost regard for the letter and the spirit of government’s drastic measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19. Production and ancillary services will be limited to essential goods and services.

The provisions published in the regulations circulated on 25 March 2020, stipulate that employees rendering essential services are exempted and should be allowed to tender their services. In terms of the regulations, an employee performing an essential service/function must carry a letter, complying with the requirements of the regulation, confirming that he/she is required to report for duty.

Although this is not contained in the regulations, Mr Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry, announced last night that businesses conducting critical services must register and obtain a certificate on the Bizportal site. At the time of publication of this, the site was not functional.

For the brief period that the site was functional earlier this morning, businesses were unable to register.

Minister Patel initially indicated, in a previous media statement, that “back office staff” in non-essential services, for instance, staff responsible for payroll, will be allowed to travel to work if required. However, this exception has not been included in the final regulations. We assume that this exception is no longer applicable and only critical personnel in essential services, which have registered on the Bizportal site, may travel to work.

Since the detail and processes surrounding compliance with these regulations are not yet clear or functional, many essential businesses may not have been able to comply with the requirements by the time the lockdown is initiated tonight.

We therefore call on all members of the SAPS, the SANDF and the Metro Police to, in the enforcement of the regulations, especially during the early stages of the lockdown, take these practical difficulties into consideration.

This is a press release by Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA).

For more information:
NEASA Media Department
Marietha Thirion