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COVID-19 – How will it affect my business?
03 April 2020  | Grant Arendse
This is an informative article looking at the measures that were now incorporated by the South African government to curb the ongoing viral pandemic of the coronavirus. This article will only focus on the measures that will affect your business. 
The world is facing a medical emergency far graver than what we have experienced in over a century. The coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing viral pandemic of coronavirus disease (also known as COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. 

On 5 March 2020, the Department of Health announced that a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal had contracted the virus while on holiday in Italy.  This was South Africa’s first confirmed coronavirus patient. Since then there have been numerous other coronavirus cases throughout South Africa.  

On 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus epidemic in South Africa a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. This will allow the government to incorporate an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus.

On 17 March 2020, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gazetted the regulations, which dictate rules and procedures that need to be adhered to by the general public.

Now the question is, how will these rules and procedures affect your business?

One of the important limitations is to restrict the hours for the sale, dispensing or transportation of liquor.

According to the Disaster Management Act, 2002, All on-consumption premises selling liquor (for example restaurants, pubs, clubs, etc.) must be closed between 6 pm and 9 am the next morning on weekdays and Saturdays; and from 1 pm on Sundays and public holidays. These times will also apply to all off-consumption (for example liquor stores) premises selling liquor. The on-consumption premises would be able to continue trading with anything else. 

Furthermore, it is expected that all premises selling liquor which provide accommodation must implement measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, provided that adequate space is available and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure to persons with the coronavirus are adhered to. 

All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must be closed with immediate effect or must accommodate no more than 50 persons at any time - provided that adequate space is available and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure to persons with COVID-19 are adhered to.

What happens when you do not follow these rules?

The Act dictates that any person who permits more than 50 persons at a premises where liquor is sold and consumed is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Further restrictions include gatherings of more than 100 people, will be prohibited, mass celebrations of upcoming national days will be cancelled, where gatherings of less than 100 people are unavoidable, organisers will need to put in place stringent measures of prevention and control.
Furthermore, due to self-isolation and social distancing, which everyone is also supposed to adhere to, this might further restrict “walk-in” clients or staff members, should your business require a physical presence of clients and staff members. 

As of the date this article was written, the aforesaid are currently the measures which all business should adhere to until further notice. It is expected that the general public follows these measures at all possible times. 
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