In light of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world as well as having a large impact on the South African economy, the government has extended the lock-down as per the Presidential address last night, some considerations have been made to ensure essential services and the sale of certain goods will continue to be provided to the public. It is encouraged that the public maintain social distancing and only leave home for emergencies or to obtain essential goods, this is in order to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
In a recently released circular together with a government gazette issued by the Minister of Small Business Development and Ministry of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs dated 5 and 6 April, there have been some regulation clarifications regarding movement and operations by Small, Medium, Micro-sized Enterprises as well as Informal Traders. Sectors that these provisions cover are SMMEs such as grocery stores, corner shops, spaza shops, fruit and vegetable stores and informal food (uncooked) traders.
These sectors will have to comply with the gazetted amendments in order to conduct business. Such operations are considered providers of essential services or goods so are exempt from the lockdown regulations, provided they have the necessary permits or written permissions from municipalities. These regulations require SMMEs and informal traders to obtain permits or written permission from municipalities in order to operate and thus conduct the business of essential services or provide essential goods or trading in food stuffs (uncooked). The municipalities will have the necessary offices dealing with issuing the written permissions and permits operational.
It is recommended to traders that they operate on absolute minimum staff so that businesses can safely conduct operations, hygiene as well as health requirements must be strictly adhered to. Only basic necessities and food stuffs are allowed to be traded and no items prohibited by regulations are allowed to be sold. If it is found that these prohibited items are traded there will be consequences as per the lockdown regulations.
Maintaining social distancing by customers must be encouraged and sanitation measures such as disinfection of trading spaces should be strictly applied by vendors. Aside from having the necessary permits or written permissions to trade and operate, the vendors should ensure that staff at all times have their photo identification and also documents allowing them to provide essential services.
For small business wishing to clarify their status regarding their operations performing an essential service or providing essential goods are able to contact the Department of Small Business Development on 0860 663 7876 or visit their website.