FAQ’s FOR BUSINESS OPERATIONS DURING THE LOCK DOWN
UPDATED AS AT 11 June 2020

This Q&A constitutes guidelines for business during the lockdown. It is not an official document, and does not constitute legal advice, but is intended to bring some clarity to businesses at the current point in time.

This information is accurate as at the date of publishing this information, however the regulations may change quite rapidly so it is recommended that you check the South African government website frequently to stay on top of any amendments which may affect your business.

Part A: Questions regarding preparation for re-opening

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IS THERE AN OFFICIAL LIST OF WHICH BUSINESSES THAT CAN OPEN?

Yes, the New COVID-19 Regulations provide a list of both “essential services” which may continue to operate and “permitted services” which are allowed to operate during Alert Level 4. The New COVID-19 Regulations  intend to apply a risk-adjusted strategy to bring different sectors of the economy back into operation in a safe manner. Accordingly, as we move from Alert Level 4 to lower Levels, more businesses will be permitted to operate, subject to any prescribed health protocols.

WHICH BUSINESSES ARE PERMITTED TO OPERATE DURING ALERT LEVEL 4?

The New COVID-19 Regulations allow some industries and activities to continue or resume their business operations during Alert Level 4, subject to compliance with prescribed health protocols. These businesses include those that provide “essential services” as well as those that provide “permitted services”, as described in the New COVID-19 Regulations. In addition, any business which is able to safely operate remotely (i.e. work from home) may continue to do so regardless of whether or not it is regarded as an essential or permitted service.

Essential Services are those:

  • specifically listed in Annexure D (Part B) of the New COVID-19 Regulations
  • that are already officially registered under the Labour Relations Act as an essential service. The list of such services is available on CCMA website, under advice and information sheets, and is up to date.

Permitted Services are those:

  • Listed in Table 1 of the New COVID-19 Regulations . [See Annex A2, below for guidance]
  • It must be noted that not all permitted service providers will be allowed to resume full capacity immediately.

For ease of reference a consolidated list of the essential services is attached as Annex A1 while a permitted services are attached as Annex A2. These lists have been compiled having regard to the New COVID-19 Regulations and are up to date as at 29 April 2020.

DO I HAVE TO REGISTER MY BUSINESS ON THE HTTP://WWW.BIZPORTAL.GOV.ZA/ CIPC PORTAL IN ORDER TO CARRY ON BUSINESS OR DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR AN EXTENSION IF I ALREADY HAD A CIPC CERTIFICATE?

It is currently not obligatory in terms of the New COVID-19 Regulations to register on bizportal. This portal has been put in place as an additional measure to give comfort to business and employees if they get stopped by police officers. It will also help government understand and better manage essential and permitted business services during this time.

While it is currently not a legal condition of operation, it is recommended, that all registered companies providing an essential service or permitted service during Alert level 4 registers on the CIPC bizportal website, as law enforcement officers may request this information.

THE CIPC PORTAL THE HTTP://WWW.BIZPORTAL.GOV.ZA/ DOESN’T ALLOW ME TO REGISTER AS I HAVE NOT REGISTERED AS A COMPANY. DOES THIS MEAN I AM PROHIBITED FROM OPERATING DURING ALERT LEVEL 4?

Currently the CIPC portal only accommodates the registration of companies and close corporations. All of the following are automatically exempt and do not require a DTIC/CIPC certificate:

  • All public sector health departments and facilities including the NHLS. NICD, Provincial Departments and hospitals, local government primary health care and clinics;
  • All sole traders who provide essential services or permitted services – e.g. GPs or informal traders;
  • All medical NGOs such as Medicins Sans Frontiere
IF I CAN WORK FROM HOME, CAN I CONTINUE TO RUN MY BUSINESS?

Yes, we encourage people to continue to remain productive by working from home if this is feasible and provided that this does not require physical contact with non-residents, or impair the Covid-19 response. This is specifically encouraged in Table 1 of New COVID-19 Regulations which states that all persons who are able to work from home should do so.

Further to this, even in circumstances that businesses may return to work during Alert Level 4, Regulation 5(a) of the New COVID-19 Regulations requires that employers adopt measures that promote physical distancing of employees including enabling employees to work from home or minimising the need for employees to be physically present at the workplace.

ARE THERE ANY MAINTENANCE OR REPAIR SERVICES I CAN CONTINUE IF I AM NOT AN ESSENTIAL OR PERMITTED SERVICES BUSINESS?
Yes, we encourage people to continue to remain productive by working from home if this is feasible and provided that this does not require physical contact with non-residents, or impair the Covid-19 response. This is specifically encouraged in Table 1 of New COVID-19 Regulations which states that all persons who are able to work from home should do so.

Further to this, even in circumstances that businesses may return to work during Alert Level 4, Regulation 5(a) of the New COVID-19 Regulations requires that employers adopt measures that promote physical distancing of employees including enabling employees to work from home or minimising the need for employees to be physically present at the workplace.

These particular essential services are covered in the Annexure D  Regulations as follows:  Reference to Regulation
private security services Annexure D, B(19)
Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment Annexure D, B(23)
Implementation of payroll systems to the extent that such arrangement has not been made, to ensure timeous payments to workers. Annexure D, B (31)
Critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21 days and are essential to resume operations Annexure D, B(32)
Trades necessary for the rendering of emergency repair work, including plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, glaziers, roof repair work; Annexure D, B(33)
Trades necessary for emergency automobile repairs for persons rendering essential services Annexure D, B(34)
I AM PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES TO OTHER COUNTRIES, IS MY BUSINESS COVERED?

Yes, call centres, for local and all international markets, may operate subject to directions issues by the relevant cabinet members. Note Call centre directions 9 April 2020.

WHO DO I SEND MY COVID-19 RISK ASSESSMENT AND HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY TO IF MY WORKPLACE IS MORE THAN 500 PERSONS?

If an employer employs more than 500 employees, you must submit a record of you COVID-19 risk assessments together with the written policy referred to above to the Department of Employment and Labour. 

The written policy and risk assessments must be sent by email to the relevant Chief Provincial Inspectors by email:

Eastern Cape: Lucky.Mkhonto@labour.gov.za

Free State: Manelisi.Luxande@labour.gov.za

Gauteng: Michael.Msiza@labour.gov.za

KZN: Edward.Khambula@labour.gov.za

Limpopo: Phaswane.Tladi@labour.gov.za

Mpumalanga: Nonyaniso.Njwambe@labour.gov.za

North West: Boikie.Mampuru@labour.gov.za

Northern Cape: Ivan.Vass@labour.gov.za

Western Cape: David.Esau@labour.gov.za

Part B: Movement of Goods

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WILL I BE ABLE TO IMPORT OR EXPORT GOODS ACROSS THE BORDER OR THROUGH THE PORTS?

Rail, ocean, air and road transport is permitted for the movement of cargo to and from other countries. However, Annexure B and Annexure C of the New COVID-19 Regulations list certain “essential goods for import” and “permitted goods for export” which restrict the goods that may be imported and exported as follows:

Imports

The following goods qualify as “essential goods for import”:

  1. Food products, including non-alcoholic beverages and animal feed.
  2. Sanitary pads, sanitary tampons, condoms.
  3. Hand sanitiser, disinfectants, soap, alcohol for industrial use, household cleaning products, and personal protective equipment, excluding cloth face masks.
  4. Products for the care of babies and toddlers.
  5. Personal toiletries, including haircare, body and face care products, roll-ons, deodorants, and dental care products.
  6. Medical and hospital supplies, medicine, equipment and personal protective equipment (excluding cloth face masks).
  7. Fuel, including coal, wood, paraffin and gas.
  8. Hardware, components and supplies.
  9. Components for aftersales vehicles services.
  10. Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any these products.
  11. Textiles required to produce face masks, and other personal protective equipment.
  12. ICT equipment to facilitate work-from-home arrangements including computers, mobile telephones and other home office equipment.

In addition, it appears that the following goods will be released at ports of entry even if they do not qualify as “essential goods for import”:

  1. materials and components required for manufacturing activities allowed under Alert Level 4;
  2. goods cleared at ports of entry for removal in transit through South Africa destined for neighbouring countries.

Exports

The following goods qualify as “goods permitted for export”:

  1. agricultural, agro-processing, forestry and fishing products; and
  2. manufacturing products and mining products permitted for production under the Alert Level 4 table subject to directions issued by the relevant Minister

The regulations also make provision for the transport of goods cleared at ports of entry for removal in transit through South Africa destined for neighbouring countries.

Part C: Enabling employees / workers to start working

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WHAT DO I NEED TO DO FOR A WORKER THAT NEEDS TO COMMUTE TO AND FROM WORK TO PERFORM AN ESSENTIAL OR PERMITTED SERVICE?

Permit and Identification document

  • The worker should have a permit which corresponds with Form 2 in Annexure A of the New COVID-19 Regulations signed by the Head of the Business. The permit should either be on an official company letterhead or stamped using the company stamp (if available).
  • The worker must also carry his/her as well as official personal identification (ID document, passport or other official photo ID) with her/him when travelling to and from work. Although SAPS have been instructed to accept electronic permits (e.g. employee’s phones) this has not been tested and not recommended at this stage.

Movement between provinces, metropolitan and district areas

  • In the previous regulations, movement between provinces, metropolitan and district areas was prohibited unless the worker obtained a special permit from the SAPS. The New COVID-19 Regulations no longer require this special permit and allow the movement between provinces, metropolitan and district areas for workers who have to commute to and from work on a daily basis provided they carry the general worker permit described above (i.e. there is no additional permit that needs to be issued).

Optional evidence

Although not specific requirement of law, as a cautionary measure, it is advisable that workers also carry the following, if possible:

ARE THE CURFEW RESTRICTIONS APPLICABLE TO PERSONS WHO RENDER ESSENTIAL SERVICES AND PERMITTED SERVICES DURING ALERT LEVEL 4?

Regulation 16(3) of the New COVID-19 Regulations explicitly excludes workers who have been granted a permit to perform an essential or permitted service and persons attending to a security or medical emergency from the curfew provisions. Accordingly, there are no restrictions for the transportation of persons rendering essential services or permitted services during Alert Level 4.

In this regard, Table 1 Part J2 & 3 allow public rail, minibus taxi and bus services to resume at Alert Levels (on terms set out in Directions) based on the progressive increase in commuter numbers during the various phases while E-hailing services may operate subject to restrictions on capacity and times and for permitted activities only.

The transportation must however be in line with the operating shifts, work time schedules as determined by the responsible head of operations, Manager, Head of the Department or a person with responsible authority as an Employer.

AM I REQUIRED TO PROVIDE WORKERS TRANSPORTATION?

An employer is not obliged to provide workers with private transportation, however, in light of there being no public transport between 20h00 to 05h00, employers who have staff that render essential services or permitted services may need to coordinate private transport for their staff who are required to work outside of the aforementioned timeframes.

Employers should consider the questions and answers applicable to vehicle capacity and health and safety measures when providing private transport.

WHAT HEALTH MEASURES MUST PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND E-HAILING OPERATORS ADHERE TO DURING THE LOCKDOWN?
  • The term “public transport vehicle” encompasses a motor car, minibus, midibus and a bus. The following health measures are required to be implemented by operators of public transport vehicles in general:
    • All operators must ensure that public transport vehicles are sanitized before picking up and after dropping off passengers;
    • Operators must ensure that all public transport vehicles’ doors and window handles, arm rest and handrails are sanitized after every load;
    • Passengers must be encouraged to sanitise after they enter the vehicle and after getting off the vehicle;
    • Operators must ensure that all public transport vehicles are clean and tidy;
    • All public transport operators must provide disinfection information materials and procedures;
    • All drivers must wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers nose and mouth;
    • The sanitisers used to sanitise all public transport vehicles must have a minimum of 60% alcohol content; and
    • All public transport operators must put measures in place to adhere to physical distancing to curb the spread of the virus.
  • A Bus is permitted to carry not more than 50% of its permissible passenger carrying capacity which includes both seating and standing passengers.
WHAT DO I DO IF STOPPED AT A CHECKPOINT AND I AM NOT ALLOWED TO PROCEED?
  • Stay calm and be respectful
  • Understand the complaint and respond
  • Produce relevant documentation (as per above) and ask the law enforcement officer to verify this with your company representative, if applicable
  • Only if you can’t resolve the problem, reach out to a Provincial SAPS Commissioner or an attorney, as appropriate. [Note: Details of Provincial SAPS Commissioner and a limited list of attorneys is contained in Annex B]

Part D: Occupational Health and Safety

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Schedule of services framework for sectors – look at services allowed for Level 4

HOW IS “DEEP CLEAN” DEFINED IN ORDER TO REOPEN A BUSINESS?

The definition of deep cleaning required for re-opening will depend on the sector/industry in which the business operates.

ARE THE MINIMUM HYGIENE REQUIREMENTS AN EMPLOYER IS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE TO EMPLOYEES?
  • Employers must be able to ensure adequate physical distancing in the workplace to reduce possible spread of illness or where 1,5 metres of distance cannot be achieved, physical barriers must separate individuals. With respect to additional supplies to employees, employers are required to ensure clean handwashing facilities with clean water, soap and paper towel is available. In addition, employers must provide a minimum of two cloth masks free of charge to each employee to wear in the workplace and in transit if taking public transit. It is important to familiarise yourself with the Occupational health and safety directions, 29 Apr 2020.
WHAT SYMPTOMS IS A BUSINESS REQUIRED TO SCREEN EMPLOYEES FOR PRIOR TO PERMITTING ENTRANCE TO THE WORKPLACE?

Employers should screen employees, at the time that they report for work, to ascertain whether they show any of the observable symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath. Furthermore, employers should require every worker to report whether they suffer from symptoms such as body aches, redness of eyes, loss of smell, loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness. Employers may do temperature tests in order to determine whether employees run a fever. In doing so, they should use un-invasive measures (thus rather not a thermometer that needs to be placed in the employee’s ear or mouth).

It is important to familiarise yourself with the symptom screen requirements in the Occupational health and safety directions, 29 Apr 2020.

WHAT DO I DO IF A STAFF MEMBER PRESENTS TO REPORTS COVID-19 RELATED SYMPTOMS?

If a worker presents or reports typical COVID-19 related symptoms:

  1. do not permit the worker to enter the workplace or report for work;
  2. if the worker is already at work, immediately isolate the worker, provide a surgical mask to the worker, and arrange for the worker to be transported in a manner that does not place other workers or members of the public at risk, for a medical examination, for testing or to be self-isolated. If the worker came to work in her/his private car and is able to drive, it is permissible to require the worker to drive home or to a medical practice or testing site, in her/his private vehicle. If the worker made use of public transport in getting to work, the employer should consider a way of transportation that does not place others at risk and, for example, require the worker to wear a mask, adhere to appropriate distancing, etc.;
  3. if the worker does not need hospital admission and is sent home, ensure that the worker undergoes self-isolation at home if appropriate, or at a designated isolation accommodation identified by the employer, in line with National Department of Health guidelines;
  4. provide prompt counselling and support to the worker as per institution’s guidelines/standard operating procedures (SOPs);
  5. immediately assess the risk of transmission and if appropriate, require temporary closure to disinfect the area and workstation;
  6. refer other workers who may have come into contact with the worker showing symptoms and who may be at risk, for symptom screening;
  7. place the worker on paid sick leave, or if sick leave is exhausted, make application for illness benefits from the UIF in terms of the Directive issued on 25 March 2020; and
  8. ensure that the worker is not discriminated against on grounds of having tested positive for COVID-19.
SHOULD I REPORT ANY ALLEGED, PRESUMED AND CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19?

If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should inform the Department of Health (0800 002 9999) and the Department of Employment and Labour accordingly. You should also give administrative support to any contact-tracing measures implemented by the Department of Health.

In the event that there is evidence that the worker contracted COVID-19 as a result of “occupational exposure” (thus, in the course and scope of her/his employment), you may lodge a claim for compensation in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA) in order to enable the worker to access applicable benefits available to employees, such as:

  1. leave for temporary disability;
  2. assessment by an occupational medicine specialist in cases of complex disease that may result in permanent disability;
  3. cover of medical expenses for the treatment and testing, as well as permanent disability assessments; and
  4. compensation to dependents in case of death.
SHOULD I ALLOW A WORKER TO RETURN TO WORK AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?

If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and isolated in accordance with the Department of Health Guidelines, the worker may only return to work if:

  1. the worker has undergone a medical examination confirming that s/he has been tested negative for COVID-19 after at least 14 days isolation;
  2. the worker wears the minimum of a surgical mask at all times for the remaining period of 21 days from the date of initial testing;
  3. the employer ensures that the worker adheres to social distancing, hygiene and cough etiquette; and
  4. the employer closely monitors the worker for symptoms on return to work.

Part E: Additional information

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WHAT DO I DO IF I NEED FURTHER INFORMATION ON THESE ISSUES?

Please contact your industry association / contact person and ask them to consolidate and then feed through queries and comments to a central coordinating point as quickly as possible.

We appreciate that these are uncertain times and you may have many questions. We need to take responsibility for applying cool heads as to what is required of us under the current circumstances. Government will need to rely on us to self-comply, using our best judgement in the circumstances.

We ask all businesses and people to take this lockdown seriously and to help us respond as effectively as possible to the country’s efforts to contain and minimise the impact of COVID-19.