Covid-19 Q & A for business operations during the lockdown


This Q&A constitutes our expectations as to how the business lockdown will take effect. It is not an official document, but intended to bring some clarity to businesses in the interim. Once the official list is released, we will update this information as is necessary.

We appeal to all businesses to respect the importance of the lockdown. Sacrifices will need to be made in the broader interests of the country and its people.

Is there an official list of which businesses that should remain open?

We are anticipating that the official list and conditions will be finalised by government today, then go for publication and be formally announced before the end of day (Wednesday, 25 March). All other lists including the one that we provide below, will be superseded by the official list published by government.

Which businesses may continue to operate during the lockdown?

Essential and critical business continuity services will need to remain open to support the health sector and to keep people healthy, safe, and secure. This will require critical infrastructure and essential businesses to remain functional and secure, as well as maintenance functions to be performed.

In our view, it is likely that the following broad areas of business will be included in the list (among others):

  • Electricity, gas and petroleum, renewables
  • Water, Sanitation and Waste Management services
  • ICT – electronic network and communication services and outlets
  • Communication services
  • Financial, insurance, medical administrators, credit and payment services to respond to, or alleviate the crisis or its impact
  • Security and Emergency services, including private security
  • Care and maintenance, and continuous operations this may apply to mines, smelters and refineries and businesses that need to move fresh or high value products that may become a health, safety or security hazards
  • Provision of food, beverages, and essential products, including farming, packaging and labelling, manufacture, distribution and sale
  • Domestic and wild animal care food and essential products, and enabling services
  • Healthcare services, pharmaceuticals, devices, complementary health and associated manufacture, delivery channels and outlets
  • Enabling services required for essential businesses, such as: call centres, professional legal and consulting services, artisan services, specialised cleaning and laundry firms, delivery and postal services, electronic communications, licencing services, essential passenger services, transport, equipment and property maintenance, safety and security services protecting people and property

Note: this is not a detailed nor conclusive list, but provides a broad guideline. We cannot give any assurance that this will be an accurate reflection of the final outcome. Businesses are encouraged to adopt a responsible and practical approach to identify whether you should remain in operation, either in full or in part. The lockdown cannot be so broad as to render the lockdown effort ineffective. Normal commercial operations do not qualify as essential services and sacrifices will need to be made. The lockdown will only work if businesses voluntarily comply. Bottom line, only remain open if you are a part of supplying a product or service that is essential under the current circumstances.

Other than food – which products are essential?

We anticipate that these types of products will be regarded as essential in order to assist with the Covid-19 response: toilet paper, cleaners, sanitizers, disinfectants, antiseptic liquids, personal hygiene products, bedding and linen, and essential supplies for those taking care of babies, children, the elderly, and the sick, in order for people to remain healthy.

Will I be required to get accreditation or exemption?

As we understand it, the lockdown will require voluntary compliance and responsible self-identification as an essential business or part thereof. There is insufficient time to get accreditation and exemptions in place before the lockdown commences.

Businesses, may, however, be asked to register on an official site for planning and intelligence purposes to help government manage the situation. There is a high risk of information being used for illicit purposes under the current conditions. Please do not register or enter any details on any sites unless you are convinced that they are secure and genuine.

Can I run skeleton functions if I am not an essential business?

Yes, there are basic functions that will be important to maintain. These include maintenance and security of property and IT infrastructure to enable businesses to operate financial and payroll systems in particular. Where possible, functions should be performed from home.

What do I need to do for staff that need to get to work for an essential business?

1. Identification as an employee of an essential businesses

Provide some form of official identification for your staff members. A company identity card should be carried if applicable. We suggest all businesses provide a letter to each staff member on an official company letterhead. We recommend it includes the following details:

  •  that the employer is a designated business;
  • the name, ID number and employee-number of the employee;the position of the employee; and
  •  that the employee is required to travel to and from work in order to perform the essential business.

The employee should have the letter with her/him when travelling to and from work, which can be presented to law enforcement officers if need be. An example of a letter is contained at the end of this Q&A in the event that it may assist.

2. Transport for employees of essential businesses

Employers are required to ensure that staff are travelling to work safely under the lockdown. Where possible, employers should arrange transport for workers, and make arrangements for regular sanitising of vehicles and social distancing.

What do I do if stopped at a checkpoint and I am not allowed to proceed?

Stay calm, produce your documentation (as per above), and ask them to verify this with your company representative.

How will transportation of goods be managed during this period?

We expect that the business will be required to demonstrate that it is transporting an essential product or part of an essential service. A letter on a company letterhead should explain why the transportation is part of an essential service.

Will I be able to transport goods across the border or through the ports?

Yes, we expect that this will continue for essential products and services.

If I can work from home, can I continue to run my business?

We encourage people to continue to remain productive and work from home if this is feasible provided that this does not require physical contact with non-residents or impair the Covid-19 response.

What do I do if I need further information on these issues?

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.


See Also:  Labour Working Group – Industry sub-stream

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