Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has announced that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services during the national lockdown are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC).
The approval will allow businesses to trade over the 21-day period in terms of the regulations published on March 25 by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
As of 14:00 on March 26, more than 10 000 companies have already registered as providers of essential goods and services, most of which are in food supply, medical and pharmaceutical services and transport.
Businesses are required to apply using the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at www.bizportal.gov.za and obtain a certificate from the commission that allows them to continue trading.
The Bizportal website will contain a menu icon listed as “Essential Service Businesses” through which an application can be made to the CIPC.
The application will be a simple declaration requiring minimal registration details, type of business/trade involved in, what trading name if any is used an d whether it meets the requirements contained in the essential services list, the contact details of the person applying as well as the number of employees that will be working during the lockdown period.
The CIPC registry will then pre-populate the remaining company information and email a certificate stating that the business is allowed to remain trading during the national lockdown period.
The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities to indicate that the business has been given government permission to trade and that its employees are able to have unrestricted movement only in the course of that trade. Businesses are required to carry the form or certificate when travelling to and from work.
The DTIC confirmed that the system is currently running with full functionality but requested that companies “be patient” through the registration process as large volumes are currently being experienced.
The service will continue to run tomorrow, and beyond, and it is not a requirement that companies complete registration before the lockdown begins.
The DTIC stressed that if a false application is made to the CIPC, and businesses are not an essential service as per the government regulations, it will be considered a fraudulent application, and will render the applicant liable to criminal prosecution and sanction.