South African Defense Forces patrol downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, March 27, 2020. Police and army started patrolling moments after South Africa went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in an effort to mitigate the spread to the coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
South African Defense Forces patrol downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, March 27, 2020. Police and army started patrolling moments after South Africa went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in an effort to mitigate the spread to the coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

More time to register as an essential service

By Philippa Larkin Time of article published Mar 27, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Businesses have more time to register on the Bizportal website, although the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (Neasa) disputes the Department of Trade and Industry's (dti's) claim that the site is fully functional. 

Businesses that provide essential services during the lockdown are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. The dti said yesterday that, as of 2pm yesterday, more than 10000 companies had registered as providers of essential goods and services. 

The dti said continues to state that due to the high volumes of traffic on the site, not all essential services would be able to register before the lockdown is implemented, but that no company would be prejudiced by any delay in the system. 

“The service will continue to run tomorrow and beyond,” it said. However, Gerhard Papenfus, the chief executive of Neasa, said yesterday that this site had been inaccessible for most of the day. 

He said, “The department stated (very confusingly) that it is not a requirement to be registered or to have a certificate before the lockdown is implemented, but (the businesses) must continue attempting to register.” Any non-essential activities performed by any business constituted a criminal offence according to the announcement by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, in terms of the regulations published late on Wednesday by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) via the Bizportal website at www.bizportal.gov.za and obtain a certificate from the commission that allows them to continue trading. 

Patel has indicated that the Bizportal website would contain a menu icon listed as “Essential Service Businesses” through which an application can be made to the CIPC. 

In terms of the regulations, an employee performing an essential service or function must carry a letter, complying with the requirements of the regulation, and confirming that he or she is required to report for duty. Patel had indicated in a previous media statement that “back-office staff” in non-essential services, such as staff responsible for payroll, would be allowed to travel to work if required.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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